John Kapoor, the Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder, known for being one of the wealthiest men in America and Arizona, was arrested and accused this Thursday of bribing doctors to prescribe an opioid drug that’s around 80 times more powerful than morphine.

Today, the same day of Kapoor’s arrest, U.S. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency.

Opioid crisis in United States, Trump border wall, Opioid companies kickbacks
John Kapoor, once one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Arizona, now faces a trial for bribing doctors. Image credit: Douglas Levre

Later in the day, the Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder might appear in a Phoenix court as he was scheduled.

The 74-year-old founder owns most of the Chandler, Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc. The US Attorney’s Office in Boston released a statement saying that Kapoor was charged with the illegal distribution of a fentanyl spray, typically prescribed to people who have cancer, and for having violated the anti-kickback laws  which forbid people to exchange money, or other things, for any federal health care program business.

Officials said that there’s an extensive list of patients who were prescribed with the fentanyl-based pain medication and did not have cancer or any other diseases. Their names were kept private.

In the beginning, the Insys’ medication Subsys made the company one of the most profitable in the market. But time passed, and Insys started experiencing a drop on its sells while the investigations began.

Last year, Forbes considered the Insys’ founder as the sixth wealthiest in Arizona, with a net worth of $2.1 billion. However, he’s not on this year’s list due to the declining stock price of his company.

“We have taken necessary and appropriate steps to prevent past mistakes from happening in the future, and are committed to conducting business according to high ethical standards and the interests of patients,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “We also continue to work with relevant authorities to resolve issues related to the misdeeds of former employees.”

Almost all the Insys’ staff replaced

Kapoor is not the only one who will probably serve time in jail for a long time. As William Weinreb, the acting US Attorney in Boston, said in the statement, the billionaire’s former partners  the other executives  were also accused of fraud.

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Many Insys executives will also be trialed for bribing doctors to push their opioid drugs. Image credit: Arizona Marijuana

US Attorney in Boston said that the company’s former CEO and other executives and managers are charged with defrauding certain insurance companies that didn’t want to negotiate Insys’ drugs because they received previous authorization directly from the insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

Kapoor was expected to attend the federal court after police captured him in Phoenix. His lawyer will be Boston-born Brian T. Kelly, who is known for being the former federal prosecutor and for successfully imprisoning gangster James “Whitey” Bugler. However, he is actually out of town and unavailable for any comment  as the Kapoor attorney’s office said.

The former CEO of the company, along with other five former executives and managers, were scheduled to attend a federal court in Massachusetts in October 2018. According to their attorneys, they will declare as not guilty.

However, other similarly accused people pleaded guilty to felony charges all across the country. The former company’s workers and health care providers said that they accepted kickback in states like Alabama and Connecticut.

This Wednesday, a Rhode Island doctor said that he was guilty of having received bribes and given prescriptions of the powerful highly addictive fentanyl spray to patients who didn’t need them.

Most of Insys’ employees were also accused on Thursday. This led them to be unable to work for the Arizona-based company again. This week, a company spokesman said that the majority of the old staff has been replaced and that he will take responsibility for the actions of all of them.

Weinreb wants to end with the hundreds of problems reaching America due to the crisis. He said that he would be after the opioid makers right as the state targets “cartels or a street-level drug dealer.”

“In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit,” said Weinreb in Boston. “Today’s arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles.”

Is the wall coming after this?

Trump gave today a speech in the East Room of the White House referring on the damages that the drug market has made to the country  just before declaring the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency.

Opioid crisis in United States, Trump border wall, Opioid companies kickbacks
Trump, speaking today from the East Room, stressed the need to build a border wall to stop the opioid crisis. Image credit: Reuters

One of Trump’s key targets, within all the opioid-epidemic speech, was the border between Mexico and the US. He said that the majority of illegal drugs reaches the country from Mexico and that he plans to be very severe and achieve his wall-goal.

“An astonishing 90% of the heroin in America comes from south of the border  where we will be building a wall  which will greatly help in this problem,” Trump said at the conference.

However, there are experts how doubt about the efforts of Trump. According to them, there are other companies that kickback doctors to prescribe opioid painkillers in the US, just like Kapoor.

Trump also pointed those drug-customers and asked them to stop buying them. As he said, anybody who’s buying illegal drugs “should know that they are risking “ their futures and their families.

Source: ABC News