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Billionaire Charged With Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioids

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The billionaire owner of Insys Therapeutics was arrested Thursday and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to use bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients.

Dr. John N. Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, Arizona, the founder and former CEO of Insys and still a member of its board, faces federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback law. In addition to fines, the racketeering and fraud charges carry possible prison sentences of up to 20 years, while the kickback charge can bring up to five years.

Prosecutors allege the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors in exchange for prescribing a spray called Subsys that contained the powerful and addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl. Three top prescribers have already been convicted of taking bribes from Insys.

Sarah Fuller was one of the patients who was prescribed Subsys even though she didn’t have cancer.

In her case, it was chronic neck and back pain from two car accidents. And when her doctor prescribed Subsys, an Insys sales rep was sitting in the room with them, her father Dave Fuller told NBC News.

Within a month, Fuller’s prescription was tripled. And 14 months after she started using the drug, she was found dead on a bedroom floor.

An attorney for Fuller’s family who is suing, Richard Hollawell, said, “This is serious stuff that we’re dealing with … People need to finally be held accountable.”

For its part, Insys has denied any responsibility and insists it shouldn’t be blamed for how doctors prescribe their products. The corporation is not facing criminal charges and is still selling Subsys — some $240 million worth of Subsys just last year.

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