Indian-American billionaire pharma entrepreneur John Kapoor's ongoing trial in the opioid misuse case in a Boston court may set a precedent for many similar hearings in the US.
The 75-year-old, who was the chief exceutive officer of pharma company Insys Therapeutics, resigned from its board of directors after he was arrested in 2017 over devising a scheme to bribe the doctors and pay them kickbacks for prescribing a fentanyl spray based drug which is used in the treatment of late stage cancer patients.
The lawsuit filed mentions that Kapoor and his executives at Insys, in which he owns over 60 percent stake, lured doctors across the country to prescribe fentanyl, a highly addictive opiod, to even those patients who did not have cancer. Opiod and drug addiction is claiming thousands of lives every year in the US. The insurance companies were also lied about the condition of patients, with some of Kapoor's employees at Insys posing as the employees at the doctors' offices. The motive was to get the payment approved for the expensive drug.
Doctors enjoyed strippers' company?
The doctors, under the pretext of attending events to learn more about the drug sold under the brand name Subsys, enjoyed the company of strippers, wined and dined and were offered jobs for relatives and friends, Bloomberg reported.
Sunrise Lee, a former stripper who was also the Insys sales manager, seemed to be a favourite with the doctors. Lee seduced doctors and made them write prescriptions for Subsys, former Insys employee Alec Burlakoff told the lawyers, according to court filings.
The sham speaker events, which were central to Kapoor's plot, helped pump up the sales of the opioid drug and thus Kapoor, along with his colleagues, spent more money on organising such events. In one case, a doctor was offered a $1,000 private champagne session at a strip club. The spendings on such events jumped to $550,000 in two years, the law suit mentions.
Former employees testify against Kapoor
Burlakoff and several other employees who worked under Kapoor are, in fact, now testifying against him and cooperating with the prosecution.
The defence lawyers, however, say that the usual link-ups of Kapor's trial to the ongoing drug addiction epidemic in US is false since Subsys doesn't make up a substantial part of the currently opioid prescriptions in the market, according to the Washington Post.
They further say that some of the employees including Burlakoff, who are now testifying against him, were in fact the organisers of the much touted speaker events where the doctors were invited.
Kapoor's lawyers argue that some members on the board of directors were well aware of the happenings and did nothing about it.
Kapoor's rags to riches story
Born in the northern Indian city of Amritsar in 1943, Kapoor was the first from his family to attend college. He studied pharmacy at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and later went on to do a doctorate in medicinal chemistry at the University of Bufallo in 1972.
After moving to United States, Kapoor first began his job in a drug firm in New York and worked his way up to lead a pharma firm Insys Therapeutics and also own a majority stake in another generic drug maker called Akron. After the controversy surrounding the Insys was exposed, Kapoor resigned from the board of directors at Akron too.
He earlier married Editha, who incidentally died due to breast cancer. Kapoor started a charitable trust, The John and Editha Kapoor Charitable Foundation, which supports the fight against cancer, as a tribute to his wife.The University at Bufallo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has named its building Johna and Editha Kapoor hall, after a donaion by John Kapoor.
Kapoor has also figured on the Forbes billionaire list twice, which mentions him as self-made entrepreneur. His net worth is estimated to be $1.8billion.