BOSTON (Reuters) – A lawyer for the founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc., a founder of the billionaire, denied Monday that he had any role in the American opioid crisis when a federal prosecutor told the jurors that he had an arrangement to buy doctors to prescribe an addictive fentanyl spray.
John Kapoor, the billionaire founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc., arrives at the federal court for the first day of the lawsuit in which Insys executives are accused of a comprehensive plan to bribe doctors for prescribing addictive opioid medication, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, January 28, 2019. REUTERS / Brian Snyder
John Kapoor, the former president of the drugmaker, and four colleagues are the first manufacturers of painkillers who have a trial against them because behavioral authorities have contributed to an opioid abuse crisis that killed tens of thousands of people every year.
Assistant lawyer David Lazarus told a Boston federal jury at the beginning of the trial that Kapoor supervised bribery of physicians paid to serve as a speaker in poorly attended bogus events in restaurants apparently intended to inform physicians about their product, Subsys.
The US Food and Drug Administration has only approved Subsys as a treatment for severe cancer pain. Still, Lazarus claimed that doctors who took bribes often prescribed Subsys to patients without cancer, thus generating a higher turnover.
"This is a case about greed, about greed and its consequences, the consequences of placing a profit on people," Lazarus said in his opening statement.
Lazarus said Insys also cheated insurers to pay for Subsys. From 2012 to 2015, he said that Kapoor had the help of co-defendants, former Insys managers and managers Michael Gurry, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan.
Kapoor's lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, clearly did not call these charges "& # 39 ;.
She said that Kapoor was committed to promoting Subsys after observing the pain his wife had suffered as a result of breast cancer. She acknowledged that Insys paid doctors, but said that Kapoor believed that doctors were really paid to discuss the benefits of the product.
"He thought the goal was to educate other doctors," Wilkinson told the court.
The arrest of Kapoor came on the same day that US President Donald Trump called the opioid crisis a public health disaster. In 2017, 47,600 people died of opioid-related overdoses, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In her opening statement, Wilkinson emphasized that Subsys only represents 0.03 percent of all American opioid prescriptions.
"It certainly is not part of the opioid crisis," she said.
Prosecutors are planning to call Michael Babich, the CEO of Insys, from 2011 to 2015, who by Lazarus the & # 39; right hand & # 39; van Kapoor, and Alec Burlakoff, his former vice president of sales. Both have pleaded guilty.
Insys said in August that it would have to pay at least $ 150 million to solve an investigation by the Department of Justice into the marketing of Subsys.
Reporting by Nate Raymond; Edited by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot