(Reuters) – The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected an offer from Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder John Kapoor and another former drugmaker chief to overturn their convictions for conspiring to bribe doctors to prescribe addictive opioids and deceive insurance companies to pay for them.
The judges rejected appeals from Mr. Kapoor, the former CEO of Insys, and Sunrise Lee, a former regional sales director, of their 2019 convictions by a jury in federal court in Boston accused of blackmailing conspiracy.
Mr Kapoor, 78, is serving a 5 1/2-year prison sentence and is the highest-ranking executive convicted of an opioid-related crime that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans over the past two decades.
“Real people suffered at the hands of these defendants, who put greed and lined their own pockets in front of patient safety,”; U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, Boston’s top federal prosecutor, said in a statement. “They are still convicted criminals and justice has been done.”
Mr Kapoor’s lawyers declined to comment. Peter Horstmann, a lawyer for Lee, said he was “very disappointed.” She has already completed a year in prison.
The jury found them guilty of participating in a comprehensive program to bribe doctors across the country by allowing them to act as speakers at sham events that are ostensibly designed to train doctors about the company’s fentanyl spray, Subsys.
Mr Kapoor’s lawyers in a petition filed in January with the Supreme Court argued that a non-physician like him could not be convicted of agreeing with a physician to illegally distribute drugs if the physician believed he or she acted in good faith.
The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2021 upheld his conviction, as did the convictions of four other former corporate officials who joined him, including Lee.
The verdicts for blackmailing conspiracy were based on the jury’s conclusion that Mr. Kapoor and others conspired to commit crimes, including the illegal distribution of a controlled substance.
The Supreme Court in March heard arguments in two cases involving doctors convicted of illegally dispensing opioids as to whether judges should consider whether they had good reason to believe their prescriptions were medically valid.
Prosecutors said one of the two doctors, Xiulu Ruan of Alabama, accepted returns from Insys and ran a “pill factory.”