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Former drug company execs face reckoning

BOSTON (AP) — The founder and former top employees of a pharmaceutical company are facing a reckoning for their role in a bribery scheme that prosecutors say boosted sales of a powerful, highly addictive painkiller and helped fuel the national opioid epidemic.

Starting Monday, seven people who worked for Insys Therapeutics will appear in Boston to be sentenced by a federal judge.

The case against company founder John Kapoor and his associates was considered the first that sought to hold an opioid maker and its executives criminally liable for the drug crisis that’s claimed nearly 400,000 lives over two decades.

At least two other companies, a drug distributor in New York and another in Ohio, have since been hit with criminal charges. But prominent industry names — specifically OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family that owns it — have only faced lawsuits, which carry no threat of prison time.

Prosecutors say officials at Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics paid millions of dollars in bribes to doctors across the country so they would overprescribe Subsys, a fentanyl-based oral spray meant to ease intense pain suffered by cancer patients.

Insys Therapeutics also deployed other questionable marketing tactics, according to prosecutors. One sales executive, who prosecutors said used to be an exotic dancer, gave a physician a lap dance at a club.

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