U.S. Supreme Court denies conviction appeal of founder of opioid maker Insys

June 13 (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 to bribe doctors to prescribe addictive opioids and defraud insurers into paying for them.

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

Kapoor, 78, is serving a 5.5-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 people. Americans over the past two decades.

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“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.”

Kapoor’s lawyers declined to comment. Peter Horstmann, a lawyer for Lee, said he was “very disappointed. She has already served a year in prison.

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.

Kapoor’s lawyers, in a January petition to the Supreme Court, argued that a non-physician like him cannot be found guilty of agreeing with a doctor to illegally distribute drugs if the doctor believed that 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 Lee.

The racketeering conspiracy convictions were based on the jury’s finding that 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. Read more

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

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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nathalie Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.

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