Drug company founder John Kapoor arrested for alleged opioid scheme

Phoenix, Ariz. (CBS News) — Federal agents arrested the founder of a major drug company in an early-morning raid Thursday on charges stemming from an alleged scheme to get doctors to prescribe a powerful opioid to patients who don’t need it.

John Kapoor, 74, was taken into custody in Phoenix, Arizona. Kapoor is the billionaire founder and former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics. He faces charges including racketeering, conspiracy, and fraud.

Kapoor is the most significant pharmaceutical executive to be criminally charged in response to the nationwide opioid crisis.

Brian Kelly, an attorney for Kapoor, said his client “is innocent of these charges and intends to fight the charges vigorously.”

Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January but still serves on its board. The company makes a spray version of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid intended only for cancer patients. Authorities allege Insys marketed the drug as part of a scheme to get non-cancer doctors to prescribe it. Numerous physicians were allegedly paid bribes by the company to push the painkilling drug.

Kapoor is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Phoenix later Thursday.

Last December, six other Insys executives were indicted on federal charges in Boston in connection with the alleged scheme to bribe doctors to unnecessarily prescribe the painkilling drug.

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