Supreme Court rejects conviction appeal of founder of opioid maker Insys

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected offers by Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder John Kapoor and another former drugmaker executive to overturn their convictions for conspiring to bribing doctors to prescribe addictive opioids and defrauding insurers into paying for them.

The judges rejected appeals by Mr. Kapoor, the former executive chairman of Insys, and Sunrise Lee, a former regional sales manager, from their 2019 convictions by a jury in federal court in Boston for racketeering conspiracy.

Mr Kapoor, 78, is serving a 5-and-a-half-year prison sentence and is the most senior corporate executive convicted in a trial for crimes related to the opioid epidemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans over the past two decades.

“Real people suffered at the hands of these defendants, who put greed and lining their pockets ahead of patient safety,” U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, Boston’s top federal prosecutor, said in a statement. “They remain convicted criminals and justice has been served.”

Mr. Kapoor’s lawyers declined to comment. Peter Horstmann, a lawyer for Ms Lee, said he was “very disappointed”. She has already served a one-year prison sentence.

The jury found them guilty of participating in a massive scheme to bribe doctors across the country by enlisting them to act as speakers at mock events supposed to educate clinicians about the company’s fentanyl spray, Subsys.

Lawyers for Mr Kapoor, in a January petition to the Supreme Court, argued that a non-doctor like him cannot be found guilty of agreeing with a doctor to illegally distribute drugs if the doctor believed he or she was acting in good faith.

In August 2021, the Boston-based 1st United States Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction, along with the convictions of four other former company officials tried alongside him, including Ms. Lee.

The racketeering conspiracy convictions were based on the jury’s finding that Mr. Kapoor and others had conspired to commit crimes, including illegally distributing a controlled substance.

In March, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases involving doctors convicted of illegally dispensing opioids on whether jurors should be required to determine whether they had good faith reasons to believe that their prescriptions were medically valid.

Prosecutors said one of those two doctors, Xiulu Ruan of Alabama, took bribes from Insys and ran a “pill mill.”

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