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Meet John Kapoor: The CEO and Founder of Insys Who Played a Role in the Fentanyl Crisis

He bribed medical practioners and doctors to pescribe the unnecessary overdose of Subsys, a fentanyl containing medicine used to relieve pain.
Cover Image Source: Opioid crisis (representative image) | Pexels | Pixabay
Cover Image Source: Opioid crisis (representative image) | Pexels | Pixabay

Painkillers are meant to provide relief but in the US, pills pushed by major pharma corporations triggered a crisis where addiction to medication and overdose claimed thousands of lives every year. One of the culprits that led to this is the Founder and CEO of Insys Therapeutics Inc., John Kapoor, who was sentenced to five and half years of prison for formulating conspiracies and bribing doctors to prescribe the unnecessary doses of Subsys, a painkiller that had fentanyl.

Insys Therapeutics, founded in 1990 by John Kapoor was basically a pharmaceutical company in Arizona, Subsys being its primary product. The concentration of Fentanyl in Subsys acts extremely fast in pain and is mostly used to treat cancer patients. The medicine has acute opioids, which are the main reason for pain relief when the Subsys is prescribed.

Image Source: Photo by Kindel Media | Pexels
Man being handcuffed (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Kindel Media 

John Nath Kapoor is infamous for his crimes in the pharmaceutical industry. He was born on February 14, 1943 in Amristar and pursued his education by diving deep into the intricacies and concepts that pharma offers. He was pretty passionate about the field and therefore, got his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and then, a Master's degree in Medicinal Chemistry. He next started working for several pharma companies in order to gain experience and then founded EJ Enterprises Inc. in 1982, which was a venture capital firm focussing on providing advisory services to start-ups looking to grow in the healthcare sector. He then wanted to grow and founded Insys Therapeutics to develop medicinal innovations and give back to the healthcare sector. Later, the company and its founder were caught for being involved in the illegal marketing of Subsys which led to an opioid crisis.

Drug overdose (representative image) | Pexels | Anna Shvets
Drug overdose (representative image) | Pexels | Anna Shvets

The motives behind the John Kapoor opioid crisis were purely monetary which attracted his employees too and together, they caused the opioid disaster. Kapoor had funded Insys which was given a go-ahead because it created Subsys, which is used for cancer treatment. He involved top executives from a medical background in the conspiracy and they used to bribe the doctors to prescribe Subsys even when not needed. Kapoor gathered the faith of the public by creating awareness for Subsys in his "speaker programs". Kapoor made millions by bribing medical practitioners and earned himself a net worth of $875 million.

Kapoor and the executives of Insys were continually making millions at the patients' expense. The case came to light when the former Insys employees leaked the information and practices which led to legal inquiries, media investigations, followed by court proceedings. Kapoor and his executives admitted their crimes after being arrested for giving rise to the National Opioid Epidemic.

Directed by David Yates, 'Pain Hustlers' is a dark comedy film on the John Kapoor opioid scam, featuring Chris Evans and Emily Blunt. The movie also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and portrays a company creating awareness for fentanyl-based opioids which resulted in overdoses in numerous patients. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Emily Blunt attend the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on January 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Emily Blunt attend the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards | Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

'Pain Hustlers' premiered on Netflix in October 2023. Yates did not want the film to be all-serious, so he gave it a touch of humor to entertain and educate the audience.