A landmark decision could be the first shot in the war against the opioid epidemic. Prosecutors in New York and Massachusetts have begun filing criminal charges against executives who they claim behaved more like drug lords than health care leaders.
According to the charges, Insys Pharmaceuticals was paying doctors all over the country millions of dollars in kickbacks to prescribe their highly addictive and highly lethal opioids to patients who they knew would become addicted. When states began cracking down on the doctors, many of their patients took to the streets to find their next fix. This has, in turn, led many to question the culture of pain management in the United States where opioids seem to create the largest problems.
A local West Palm Beach woman made the news recently for filing a civil lawsuit against the company that she says turned her into a drug addict.
Criminal Charges against Insys Executives
A Boston jury convicted John Kapoor among other Insys executives in the scheme to pay off doctors. Federal prosecutors blamed Kapoor and others of helping to fuel the opioid epidemic that has taken so many lives across the country.
However, the charges stopped short of being on the same scale of charges you would see filed against a major drug kingpin. However, success in this venture means that prosecutors will pursue future defendants with the same types of charges levied against Kapoor. It also opens up prosecutors to file RICO charges against companies.
Defending John Kapoor
Throughout the process, defense attorneys for Kapoor claimed that he was engaging in legal practices that are common in the pharmaceutical industry. It is common for pharmaceutical companies to provide incentive to doctors to prescribe their medications. It’s also legal. However, Kapoor stands accused of aiding and abetting the opioid epidemic which is a hot-button issue right now and has harmed a lot of families.
Whether or not Kapoor was treated fairly in this trial is a matter for debate. The prosecution alleges that Kapoor was involved in a wide-scale scheme to promote Subsys which is a “supercharged” form of fentanyl, one of the strongest opioids available on the market. Opioids of this strength are usually only prescribed to cancer patients or others who have chronic and debilitating pain.
The crux of the testimony concerning what Kapoor knew was provided by other former executives and doctors who were also caught up in the scheme.
Where are the Felony Murder Charges?
One could only guess that somewhere in the chain between Kapoor and opioid addicts, there is one who overdosed or died as a result of his drugs. While federal law does not have a felony murder rule, it does allow the commission of certain felonies to raise the presumption of an extreme indifference to the rights and safety of others. Thus far, however, such charges have not been filed.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. will protect your rights to a fair trial. Talk to us today to set up an appointment.