John Kapoor's Arrest (01:59)
Insys Therapeutics billionaire owner was the first pharmaceutical executive arrested as part of the opioid crisis. The "Financial Times" and "Frontline" launched an investigation into Insys' activities.
Kapoor's Career (03:29)
Kapoor was already a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur when he developed Insys to treat cancer pain after his wife died of breast cancer. He had developed or invested in a dozen pharmaceutical companies. Kapoor was known for being ruthless about profits and cutting corners in production.
Kapoor altered an existing end-stage cancer pain drug spray with fentanyl. It was faster acting than other fentanyl products on the market. Sales were initially low, so Insys began bribing doctors to write prescriptions for Subsys.
Pain Doctors (04:19)
Insys identified doctors they could bribe to write Subsys prescriptions and called them "whales." Most worked in pain clinics, but few were actually treating patients with end-stage cancer pain. Kapoor spearheaded a campaign to increase prescription doses.
Insys and Wall Street (02:58)
Wall Street investors and analysts were initially skeptical of Insys, but that changed as its sales increased. Insys went public in May 2013 with Michael Babich, who had no background in pharmaceuticals, as its CEO and public face. Its stock rose 400% throughout 2013.
Insys Whistleblowers (03:18)
By the end of 2013, law enforcement received tips about healthcare fraud at Insys. Claims included bribery and prescription writing sprees for dangerous amounts of fentanyl. The investigation was made public, but some investors continued to support Insys.
Reporting into Insys (05:42)
Subsys began appearing in federal pill mill busts. The "New York Times" received a tip about Insys' practices and reporter Katie Thomas wrote the first story about it. Financial journalist Roddy Boyd also received a tip about Insys' sales culture.
Insys Employees (02:06)
Insys hired people who did not have a pharmaceutical background. Head of sales Alec Burlakoff admitted he hired people based solely on whether he felt they could be trusted to commit bribery.
Healthcare Fraud (04:40)
Boyd's reporting had the first hint about a death from Subsys. He also uncovered that Insys was lying to insurance companies, which triggered FBI involvement; the lying was directly tied to increasing revenue.
Subsys Deaths (03:09)
Subsys was prescribed to people with chronic pain, and many became addicted to fentanyl. Many died from overdoses and Subsys prescribers were charged with their deaths. Federal agents continued looking into Insys and Kapoor.
Investigation into Insys (03:18)
After learning about the federal investigation in 2015, Kapoor forced Babich to resign as the "fall guy" and became CEO. Burlakoff met with agents in an attempt to talk his way out of charges.
Insys Arrests (02:33)
Babich, Burlakoff, and multiple sales managers were arrested and charged in 2016. Agents did not have enough evidence to charge Kapoor, but Insys' stock plummeted. Kapoor was arrested in October 2017.
Case against Insys (06:38)
Kapoor and the others were charged with racketeering and prosecutors treated the case as organized crime. Burlakoff and Babich pled guilty and agreed to fully cooperate with the government against Kapoor. Kapoor and four others were found guilty of criminal charges.
Credits: Opioids, Inc. (01:02)
Credits: Opioids, Inc.
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