This is the cautionary tale of a man who was the mastermind of an opioid scheme that resulted in several deaths. John Nath Kapoor was born in India, but moved to America and attended the University at Buffalo where obtained his doctorate in medicinal chemistry.


Dr. Kapoor is notorious, having been the subject of many television programs. His story in America began in 1972 in Buffalo, NY. He immigrated to Western New York to attend the University at Buffalo. After studying medicinal chemistry and graduating with his doctorate, Kapoor began to work at Invenex Pharmaceutical in Grand Island. He worked in Grand Island for six years, but the ambitious Dr. wanted to own something. According to Forbes,

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"In 1978, he says, he approached LyphoMed, a drugmaker owned by a Chicago corrugated-cardboard maker called Stone Container. Then 35, he not only negotiated a job at the company but also an option to buy it should Stone exit the pharma business. In 1981 Kapoor pulled together a syndicate of investors to help him buy LyphoMed from Stone Container for $2.7 million (about $6.7 million in today's money). Kapoor took LyphoMed public in 1983."

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That was the beginning of the end for Kapoor. His company was accused by the Food and Drug Administration of producing drugs in non-sterile conditions. Shortcomings of the company allegedly contributed to the deaths of three patients using feeding tubes. Kapoor sold the company in 1990 to Fujisawa Pharmaceutical, a Japanese drug conglomerate. Kapoor made $100 million off the deal but was sued by Fujisawa two years later in 1992 after the company said that LyphoMed's problems ran deep. He ended up settling for an undisclosed amount of money.

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In 1990, Kapoor founded Insys Therapeutics, a specialty pharmaceutical company. The company was eventually accused of using criminal tactics to push Subsys, "a sublingual liquid form of the drug fentanyl," according to Wikipedia. Led by Kapoor, the company used disgraceful tactics and fraud to get doctors to increase the number of prescriptions and dosage amounts of the drug issued by doctors. Some of the tactics included fraud, such as having patients say they had cancer to get insurance providers to cover the drug. United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said,

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“Out of pure greed, Insys executives, from John Kapoor on down, bribed doctors to prescribe this powerful and highly addictive narcotic to people who did not need it. Despite increasing public fears of a drug epidemic fueled by pain pill prescriptions, these defendants, led by Kapoor, ploughed ahead, setting weekly quotas for doctors on their payroll, urging them to prescribe Subsys in higher and higher doses, all so they could make millions of dollars at patients’ expense. Their disregard for the public’s health and safety is nothing short of appalling."

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Kapoor was charged with multiple felony counts including RICO conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was sentenced in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts for orchestrating a scheme to bribe practitioners to prescribe Subsys. Kapoor, at the age of 76 years old, was sentenced to 66 months in prison, three years of probation, and ordered to pay forfeiture and restitution. In 2019, the University at Buffalo unnamed John and Editha Kapoor Hall. It is now known as simply "The Pharmacy Building."

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