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Insys Founder Charged With Felonies Involving ‘Nationwide Conspiracy’ To Push Powerful Opioids

Prosecutors allege John N. Kapoor had been bribing doctors to prescribe his company’s drug intended for cancer patients only.

The Washington Post: Former Executive Charged With Conspiring To Illegally Distribute Fentanyl
The founder of an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company has been charged with spearheading a “nationwide conspiracy” to illegally distribute fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller. John N. Kapoor, 74, was charged with numerous felonies, including RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) conspiracy and wire fraud. Prosecutors allege Kapoor, the founder of Insys Pharmaceuticals, colluded with doctors and pharmacies to prescribe fentanyl that was not medically necessary and defraud insurance companies for payment. (Zezima, 10/26)

The Associated Press: Drug Company Founder Indicted In US-Wide Opioid Conspiracy
The case naming Kapoor follows indictments against the company’s former CEO and other executives and managers on allegations that they provided kickbacks to doctors to prescribe a potent opioid called Subsys. In the new indictment, Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, and the other defendants are accused of offering bribes to doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for the fentanyl-based pain medication that is meant only for cancer patients with severe pain. Most of the people who received prescriptions did not have cancer. (Snow and Davenport, 10/26)

Bloomberg: Billionaire Founder Charged In Opioid Bribery Case
Speakers’ fees, dinners, entertainment, cash — federal charges unsealed Thursday claim Kapoor’s striving company, Insys Therapeutics Inc., employed all of that and more to spur prescriptions of a highly addictive fentanyl-based drug intended only for cancer patients. (Koons and Feeley, 10/26)

Stat: Insys Founder Arrested And Charged In Alleged Conspiracy To Bribe Doctors
“In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit,” acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said in a statement. (Swetlitz, 10/26)

WBUR: Federal Prosecutors In Boston Bring Case Against Drug Company Founder In Opioid Conspiracy
In Massachusetts, former Insys CEO Michael L. Babich and five other former executives and managers are set to go to trial in October 2018 and have pleaded not guilty. The latest indictment brings new charges against Babich and others. (Snow and Davenport, 10/26)

Reuters: U.S. Attorney General Says People Should Just ‘Say No’ To Opioids 
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions equated the opioid epidemic to a personal failing by many Americans who cannot “say no” to drugs on Thursday, and he said that marijuana could be serving as a gateway to the problem. “People should say no to drug use. They have got to protect themselves first,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. (Lynch, 10/26)

The Hill: Overdose Deaths Have Doubled In A Decade 
The number of Americans dying from drug overdoses jumped by more than 200 percent in the last 16 years, a spike that crosses economic, geographic and racial lines. More than 52,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 211 percent higher than the 16,849 people who died of overdoses in 1999 and double the 25,785 who died that way in 2003. (Wilson, 10/26)

Bloomberg: Lawsuits Won’t Fix Opioid Epidemic, Top Drug Distributor Says
Courtrooms aren’t the place to fix the opioid epidemic, said a top drug distributor targeted by numerous lawsuits from cities and states claiming it played a role in the crisis. “Frankly, lawsuits from various parties and settlements don’t solve the problem,” said John Hammergren, the chief executive of McKesson Corp., in discussing quarterly results on a call with analysts Thursday. “What solves the problem is thinking in a broader context and putting the solutions in place that they can actually prevent this from happening.” (Hopkins, 10/26)

NPR: Narcan Opioid Overdose Spray Is Now Stocked By All Walgreens Pharmacies
It has the power to save lives by targeting opioid overdoses — something that kills more than 140 Americans every day. And now Narcan, the nasal spray that can pull a drug user back from an overdose, is being carried by all of Walgreens’ more than 8,000 pharmacies. “By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed,” said Walgreens vice president Rick Gates. (Chappell, 10/26)

Miami Herald: Police Departments To Take Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs
Have unwanted or unused prescription drugs taking up room in your medicine cabinet? Police departments across South Florida are taking part in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. That means people can drop off prescription drugs with no questions asked. (Teproff, 10/26)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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