The first prosecution of a pharmaceutical company’s chief executive involved with opioid overdoses begins this week with Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s John Kapoor, the results of which may shock an industry facing large penalties for its role in the crisis.
Kapoor allegedly used speakers’ fees, dinners, and cash to convince doctors to prescribe a highly addictive opioid painkiller meant solely for patients with cancer, contributing to widespread addiction and death. More than 1,500 local governments have sued opioid makers and distributors to recover the billions of dollars spent fighting the epidemic.
Former CEO Michael Babich pleaded guilty this month and agreed to cooperate in a bid for leniency. Other defendants include manager Alec Burlakoff, former vice president Michael Gurry, ex-national sales director Richard Simon, and former regional sales director Joseph Rowan. The accused deny wrongdoing.
Robert Mintz noted that the defense lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, may cast blame on Babich and Burlakoff because they oversaw the speaker’s program that was key in the alleged plot.
“She could very well argue the wrongdoing was committed by these lower-level executives, who had their own financial interests in pushing sales of the drug,’’ he said. “She may tell the jury they are now throwing their former boss under the bus to save themselves.’’