The founder of a multi-billion dollar drug company has been convicted of bribing doctors to prescribe its highly addictive fentanyl spray to patients who did not need it.
Extreme tactics, including using a sales representative to give one medic a lap dance, were used by Insys Therapeutics to boost sales of its powerful painkiller Subsys.
John Kapoor and four other former employees are now facing up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charges.
During the 10-week trial, jurors were shown evidence that included a video of employees dancing and rapping around an executive dressed as a giant bottle of Subsys, and heard testimony about how the company made a habit of hiring attractive women as sales representatives.
Also found guilty were; Richard Simon, the company’s former national director of sales, former vice president of managed markets Michael Gurry, and Joseph Rowan and Sunrise Lee – both former regional sales directors.
An-ex sales representative testified that Lee, formerly an exotic dancer, once gave a lap dance at a Chicago nightclub to a doctor whom Insys was pushing to write more prescriptions.
Her lawyer said she will challenge the verdict.
Kapoor, 76, and the others were accused of scheming to bribe doctors around the US to boost sales of Subsys and misleading insurers to get payment approved for the drug which can cost as much as $19,000 a month.
The bribes were paid in the form of fees for bogus speaking engagements that were billed as educational opportunities for other doctors.
It is the first conviction of a drug company CEO in the federal government’s fight to tackle those they see as being responsible for fuelling the nation’s deadly opioid crisis.
“This is a landmark prosecution that vindicated the public’s interest in staunching the flow of opioids into our homes and streets,” Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling said.
Kapoor’s lawyers insisted prosecutors were unfairly blaming Insys Therapeutics for fuelling the drug crisis, noting that Subsys makes up a tiny fraction of the prescription opioid market.
The convictions could lead to further cases against top executives of opioid manufacturers.
Between 1999 and 2017, nearly 400,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses and an estimated two million people are addicted to the drugs.
Source: SKY NEWS