4 Drug Company Executives and a Company Founder Convicted of Opioid Kickback Scheme

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of David Harris Jr.

One of the biggest problems we have is a nationwide drug abuse epidemic. Not only do we have a problem with illegal drugs coming across the southern border, but we have one functioning inside the established medical system. Just a couple of days ago, four drug company executives and a company founder were convicted of bribing doctors and giving kickbacks to promote a spray dispenser using the highly addictive opioid, Fentanyl.

From Fox:

The founder of Arizona-based drug company Insys Therapeutics and four other former executives were convicted Wednesday of conspiring to pay doctors bribes and kickbacks to boost sales of the highly addictive opioid spray Subsys.

Insys founder and former chairman John Kapoor, 74, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and other charges for his role in directing the scheme, which included paying doctors speaking fees for sham events billed as educational opportunities, and misleading insurers about patients’ medical conditions in order to get payments approved for the drug.

Convicted along with Kapoor were former national sales director Richard Simon, former regional sales directors Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan, and former vice president of managed markets Michael Gurry. The jury in Boston federal court deliberated for 15 days before returning the verdicts.

Two other former executives, ex-CEO Michael Babich and ex-vice president of sales Alec Burlakoff, pleaded guilty in January and November, respectively, and testified against their onetime colleagues.

Lawyers for Kapoor and the others argued in court documents that they couldn’t be convicted because prosecutors failed to prove that they intended for doctors to prescribe the drug to patients who had no medical need for it.

Kapoor’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, sought to shift the blame onto Burlakoff, claiming the sales executive made side deals with doctors and lied when he testified against Kapoor because he’s trying to save himself. In an emailed statement, Wilkinson said she ad Kapoor were disappointed but would “continue the fight to clear Dr. Kapoor’s name.” She added that the length of the jury’s deliberations “confirm that this was far from an open-and-shut case.”

Kapoor was arrested in October 2017, on the same day President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. And prosecutors have touted the case as illustrative of their work to fight the drug epidemic.

Source: Fox News

I grew up in an era where the doctors were genuinely interested in making their patients get better, and as far as I know, didn’t have the pressure from drug companies to market their wares. In recent times, however, due to health issues in my own family, I have observed firsthand how some of the doctors with whom I’ve had contact seemed to have an eagerness to promote certain brands of medications, and in some cases, wanted members of my family to continue using the prescribed drugs regardless of the side effects manifested. Some dentists are following a similar path, for example, promoting the use of fluoridated toothpaste, and encouraging the application of fluoride after a cleaning, when a little research will clearly show that fluoride is a poisonous chemical. I decided a long time ago to reject fluoride treatments and use a natural non-fluoridated toothpaste because I know the truth.

The point of saying all that is it’s so shameful that in so many cases, such as the ones illustrated in the above article we referenced, greed has supplanted conscientious medical care. I’ve heard people say that “money is the root of all evil” when in fact, the correct  saying is from the Bible verse in 1 Timothy 6:10 which says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” A cross-reference to that verse is from Proverbs 15:27
“He who is greedy for unjust gain brings trouble on his household, but he who hates bribes will live.” These convictions showcase the pitfalls inherent in the greed to which these executives have fallen prey, and we can only hope that doctors and others in the pharmaceutical industry will take heed to the situation and come clean. “Professionalism” is synonymous with “trustworthy,” so I think it is imperative that the doctors and drug companies find their way to a clean conscience and resume the pathway to actual medical care rather than to fall to the lure of more money that comes from what I really believe has declined into full-scale malpractice through the promotion of drugs that do more harm than good.



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