How a handful of pharmaceutical sales execs broke the law to sell more opioids
3 min read
How a handful of pharmaceutical sales execs broke the law to sell more opioids
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Most everyone has heard about the opioid crisis, and about Purdue Pharma, the now-dissolved maker of the highly addictive painkiller, OxyContin. But there's another, lesser-known business that is alleged to have used shady and illegal business practices to get doctors to overprescribe opioids to patients. And, in the case of Insys Therapeutics, their sales team went far beyond aggressive sales tactics, crossing the line into fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy.

The story starts with a man named John Kapoor, an entrepreneur who had already made a fortune in the pharmaceutical industry when he started Insys Therapeutics in 1990. Insys's main product was called Subsys, a spray version of the potent opioid drug fentanyl. After years of development, Subsys had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat cancer patients who suffered intense bouts of pain.

But there was a problem: after investing millions of dollars into developing the drug, and waiting for years for FDA approval, sales were mediocre. Kapoor needed to recoup his investment, and he needed someone who was willing to do whatever it took.

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