Trial Evidence: Opioid Maker Used Rap Video to Push Fentanyl

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

In yet another trial against another opioid maker, this one being held in Massachusetts, in which the Arizona based Insys Therapeutics Inc. and its “wealthy founder and former chairman” John Kapoor is “the highest-ranking pharmaceutical company figure to face trial,” according to a January Associated Press report.

The 75 year old Kapoor, along with four other Insys employees, were arrested in 2017 and charged with racketeering conspiracy. Prosecutors allege that the company’s executives, not “satisfied with sales” devised a plan to “offer cash to doctors in exchange for prescriptions” for a fentanyl spray called Subsys, “a drug meant for cancer patients with severe pain.”

“Soon, the highly addictive fentanyl spray was flourishing, and executives were raking in millions.”

The trial started in January. Kapoor continues to maintain his innocence, saying that he “had committed no crimes” and that he would be “vindicated at trial.”

Several Insys employees and doctors have already been convicted in other cases of participating in a kickback scheme. A number of states have sued the company, which also agreed last year to pay $150 million to settle a federal investigation into inappropriate sales.

Prosecutors say Insys targeted doctors across the country known for prescribing large numbers of opioids and paid them bribes and kickbacks that were disguised as speaking fees for events billed as opportunities for physicians to learn about the drug.

Insys staffers also misled insurers about patients’ medical conditions and posed as doctors’ office employees in order to get payment approved for the costly drug, prosecutors allege.

Lawsuits filed against the company say patients were given high doses of the potent narcotic even though they didn’t have cancer, weren’t warned of the risks and became addicted before suffering through withdrawal when they were cut off.

Associate Press; 25 January 2019

In a follow-up report of the on-going trial, which is expected to last several more weeks, the Associated Press reported last week, “employees at a drug company accused of bribing doctors rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of the highly addictive fentanyl spray in a video meant to motivate sales reps to push the drug.”

The video was shown to jurors this week in the closely watched trial in Boston of wealthy Insys Therapeutics Inc. Founder John Kapoor and four other onetime executives, including a former exotic dancer who prosecutors say was hired as a regional sales manager even though she had no pharmaceutical experience.

They’re charged with scheming to pay doctors bribes and kickbacks in exchange for prescriptions of the opioid meant for cancer patients with severe pain. Kapoor and the other former executives of the Chandler, Arizona-based company have denied all wrongdoing.

Associated Press; 15 February 2019

“I love titration, yeah, that’s not a problem. I got new patients and I got a lot of ’em,” they say. “Build relationships that are healthy. Got more docs than Janelle’s got selfies.”

“At one point,” the AP reports, “the person dressed up as the bottle of fentanyl spray takes off his costume to reveal then-vice president of sales, Alec Burlakoff.”

Alec Burlakoff and Michael Babich are two former Insys executives cooperating with the government. Burlakoff “pleaded guilty in November to racketeering conspiracy and is expected to testify against Kapoor.” Babich pleaded guilty in January and testified last week that “Kapoor pushed to get patients on higher doses so they would continue taking the drug, which meant more money for the company.”

As part of Kapoor’s defense, his attorney has accused Burlakoff and Babich of being liars “who are willing to say anything to take down Kapoor in the hopes of getting a lesser sentence,” and that “any criminal activity by Insys was orchestrated by Burlakoff.”

Last month, a former employee told jurors that she watched her boss — regional sales manager Sunrise Lee — give a lap dance at a Chicago nightclub to a doctor Insys was pushing to write more prescriptions. Lee’s lawyer said the doctor was taking advantage of her.

“Babich told jurors that Insys looked for sales reps who were “poor, hungry and driven” or what they called “PHDs” and said they “recruited employees who were “easy on the eyes.””

“No physician wanted a quote unquote unattractive person to walk in their door,” he said.

ICYMI, for further reading:

Down the Rabbit Holes; theNewsBlender.

Five-Term Rep Tom Marino (R-PA) ‘Resigning’ After Easy Win in November; theNewsBlender.

US Representative Tom Marino, who represents Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and was one of Trump’s earlier supporters, co-chairing Trump’s presidential election campaign in Pennsylvania with Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), announced in a statement released to the press on Thursday, the Associated Press reported, that, “his last day will be Jan. 23 and that he is taking a job in the private sector,” only days into the new US Congressional session after winning an easy reelection for his “heavily Republican district in northern Pennsylvania.”


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