Insys founder Kapoor sentenced to more than five years in prison

Kapoor is the highest-ranking pharmacuetical executive sentenced in a case linked to the United States opioid crisis.

    In 2019, a US federal jury in Boston found John Kapoor guilty of racketeering conspiracy in a scheme that involved bribing doctors to prescribe the company's fentanyl-based painkiller [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]
    In 2019, a US federal jury in Boston found John Kapoor guilty of racketeering conspiracy in a scheme that involved bribing doctors to prescribe the company's fentanyl-based painkiller [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

    Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor became the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive to be sentenced in a case linked to the United States opioid crisis after a US district judge in Boston, Massachusetts on Thursday sentenced him to 66 months - five and a half years - in prison for his role in an opioid fraud scheme.

    US District Court Judge Allison D Burroughs had previously sentenced four other former Insys executives, but her punishments have been less than three years in prison on government recommendations of more than 10 years.

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    Last year, a federal jury in Boston found Kapoor guilty of racketeering conspiracy in a scheme that involved bribing doctors to prescribe the company's fentanyl-based painkiller, Subsys. The scheme also defrauded insurers into paying for the drug.

    From 1999 to 2017, some 400,000 people died from overdoses involving an opioid, including prescription and illicit drugs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "Kapoor was the company's founder ... who did not hesitate to use the authority of his financial position to dictate the criminal strategies employed by Insys," the office of Massachusetts-based US District Attorney Andrew Lelling wrote in a filing with the court.

    "He was the principal leader, who personally approved, and thereafter enforced, the corrupt strategies employed throughout the conspiracy. This crime would not have happened, could not have happened, without John Kapoor," the filing said.

    Kapoor, who served as the Chandler, Arizona-based drugmaker's chairman and later chief executive, lost nearly $80m through his association with Insys, according to court filings by his defence team. Insys filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019.

    "He does not expect anyone to feel sorry for him for that loss, and he is of course facing other sentencing consequences that cannot be expressed in monetary terms," his defence team said in filings with the court.

    In a letter to the judge, Mary Gauwitz, one of many friends who wrote in support of Kapoor, described him as a man who enjoys a $4.99 rotisserie chicken from Costco. He also made sure everyone at the Editha House in Phoenix, where Gauwitz serves as the CEO and where cancer patients receive help with housing and other assistance, obtained rotisserie chickens if they wanted them, Gauwitz wrote.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency