International Cannabis Business Conference

Good Riddance to Opioids Pusher Insys Therapeutics

Insys’ founder Mitch Kapoor and four other company executives were sentenced in federal court on January 23.

The complete and total dissolution of Insys Therapeutics should give the pharmaceuticals industry pause. Insys' wanton disregard for the law in promoting their highly addictive fentanyl spray Subsys has resulted in the company's bankruptcy and sentencing of founder John Kapoor to 66 months in jail as well as four other executives for bribing doctors and duping patients.

Insys' execs were charged under RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which is usually employed for mobsters and drug cartels. The company sure acted like that as they drummed up interest in their products with rap videos like this one.

Note the lyrics: 

I'm the baddest, I was created in a lab

My delivery is giving me 38% of the industry

I'm built to last y'all

Can't get rid of me, not even be sick of me

Considered the most dangerous of prescribed opioids, fentanyl is responsible for nearly half of all opioid-related deaths, which was 47,600 in 2017. Imagine how many fewer people would have died had it not been for Insys' greedy scheme, pushing millions of doses to Americans.

Founded in 1990, Insys grew quickly and by 2016 was listed as the No. 52 "Fast 500 North America" company by Deloitte. But in 2017, the Feds slapped Kapoor and others with multiple charges.

Insys’ deadly delivery system: their fentanyl-filled Subsys spray. Fentanyl kills more people than any other opioid.

"In order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication (‘Subsys’), a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense breakthrough pain,” the suit stated. “In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.”

After a 10-week trial in Boston last year, the Insys Five were found guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. However, they all got off with lighter sentences than expected. In the case of Kapoor, he could have gone to jail for 20 years.

In June, Insys filed for bankruptcy after being hit with a $225 million fine. In September, a bankruptcy court in Delaware allowed Inys to sell off the Subsys brand to BTcP Pharma LLC in exchange for $20 million in royalties. 

Why this all matters, especially to drug-policy reformers and marijuana activists in particular, is Insys also manufactured Syndros, a synthetic cannabis spray, and helped to defeat an effort in Arizona, their home state, to legalize adult use in 2016 with a $500,000 donation to an anti-marijuana organization.

So, let's have a toast to justice pretty well done in the case of Mitch Kapoor and Insys Therapeutics.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.