N.J. attorney general names Insys founder Kapoor as defendant in opioid false-claims lawsuit

Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix in October, where he was arrested on charges of leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and pharmacists to widely prescribe an opioid cancer drug for people who didn’t need it. Kapoor was arraigned in the case Thursday in federal court in Boston.

The New Jersey attorney general amended a consumer-fraud and false-claims lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics Inc. Friday to add the company’s billionaire founder, John N. Kapoor, as a defendant.

Insys, based in Chandler, Ariz., and Kapoor are accused of illegally pushing the powerful opioid fentanyl drug Subsys, approved only to treat cancer pain, on patients with routine pain.

Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said Kapoor and Insys put “hundreds” of lives in jeopardy and “led to the death of at least one New Jersey resident,” a Camden County woman, 32, who was prescribed Subsys for fibromyalgia. The lawsuit says two New Jersey state employee health-benefits plans paid $10.3 million to reimburse Subsys prescriptions between 2012 and 2016, while the state Workers Compensation Program paid another $300,000.

Insys sold $74.2 million worth of Subsys in New Jersey between 2012 and third quarter 2016. The lawsuit says Insys, led by Kapoor, aggressively pushed “off-label” uses of the opioid painkiller, which is 80 times more powerful than morphine.

On Thursday, Kapoor pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boston to criminal charges that he bribed doctors to prescribe the fentanyl-based spray.  Kapoor, 74, who lives in Phoenix, and his subordinates are accused of paying speaker fees and other bribes to doctors to prescribe Subsys and tricking insurers to approve payments by misleading them about patients’ pain diagnoses.