Jan 29, 2019 - Health

Opioid makers' first day in court

Bottle of oxycodone

Oxycodone. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

For the first time, a pharmaceutical CEO is officially on trial for charges related to the opioid crisis. Opening arguments began yesterday in the trial of former Insys CEO John Kapoor, who — along with four other Insys executives — faces racketeering charges over the marketing of Subsys, a prescription fentanyl product.

Driving the news: Kapoor's lawyer sought to shift the blame to other Insys employees, Bloomberg reports, telling the jury during her opening statement that one of those employees hid payments to doctors from the CEO.

Why it matters: The judge in the Insys case told jurors yesterday not to let it become a “referendum on U.S. health-care policy," per Bloomberg.

  • But as the first trial of its kind, lawyers will inevitably be scrutinizing this case for signals and lessons that could inform future legal proceedings. That includes Massachusetts’ lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and members of the Sackler family, who ran the company and oversaw its aggressive marketing.

Speaking of which: A Massachusetts judge ruled yesterday that Massachusetts' full, un-redacted complaint against Purdue must be released publicly. Purdue had fought the full release of the complaint, pitting it against the state attorney general as well as several news outlets.

Go deeper: Where the national opioids lawsuit could be headed

Go deeper