A jury in Boston has found onetime billionaire and drug company executive John Kapoor and his four co-defendants guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict came after 15 days of deliberation.
Kapoor, the 76-year-old former chairman of Insys Therapeutics, was found guilty of charges that carry up to 20 years in prison. Four ex-employees of the Chandler, Arizona-based company, including a former exotic dancer, were also convicted.
The federal government accused Kapoor and his co-defendants of running a nationwide bribery scheme. Between 2012 and 2015, Insys allegedly paid doctors to prescribe its potent opioid medication and then lied to insurance companies to ensure that the expensive fentanyl-based painkiller would be covered.
Kapoor is among the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executives to face trial amid a national opioid epidemic. By pursuing this case, the federal government was seen as sending a message that it is holding drug companies accountable for their role in the epidemic, newsreports said.
The guilty verdict could strengthen the cases against other pharmaceutical executives implicated in the opioid crisis.
Opioid overdoses claimed nearly 400,000 lives in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 2 million people are addicted to drugs, which include both prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and illegal drugs such as heroin.