BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The first of seven former pharmaceutical executives has been sentenced in the Insys Therapeutics bribery scheme.
Michael Gurry, 56, Insys's former Vice President of Managed Markets, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy in May 2019. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison—far less than the government's suggested sentence of 132 months—and three years of supervised release in Federal Court in Boston Monday.
Gurry and his cohorts, including billionaire founder John Kapoor, were found guilty of bribing doctors and deceiving insurers between May 2012 and December 2015 to prescribe Subsys, a powerful fentanyl-based painkiller spray, to cancer patients who didn't need it—helping to fuel the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Prosecutors said the scheme would have failed if not for Gurry's department, which was created to lie to insurance companies to get them to pay for the drug.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a release that Gurry authorized his employees to lead insurers into believing they were calling from the prescriber's office, and created a "misleading script, known as 'the spiel,' to trick insurers into believing that Subsys had been prescribed to the patient to treat breakthrough cancer pain, for which insurers were more likely to authorize payment."
In some cases, the U.S. Attorney's Office said, Gurry authorized his employees to lie about patients' records. His techniques included citing a patient's diagnosis of dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, even when they did not have it, or misleading insurers by mentioning a patient's cancer history.
Three people who became addicted to the drug gave victim impact statements Monday, each telling the judge they were prescribed Subsys despite the fact they didn't have cancer. All three said the drug nearly ruined their lives.
Before his sentence was read, Gurry addressed the court, apologizing to all of the victims who were hurt by the over-prescribing of the drug as his wife cried from the gallery.
Gurry was also ordered to pay about $3.6 million in forfeiture, in addition to a restitution amount that will be set at a later date. He will self report to prison on February 25.
Meanwhile, a hearing about what form that restitution will take was held earlier Monday.
Lawyers for the convicted Insys execs argued that the defendants shouldn't have to forfeit money from their salaries that was already paid in taxes because the government already has that money—calling it "double counting."
Prosecutors disagreed, adding that taxes paid are all part of an employee's gross salary. They're asking for more than $300 million in restitution to be split among patients, insurance companies, and Medicare; Insys is arguing that restitution should be limited to just over $18.4 million.
U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs indicating she will likely approve individual restitution amounts for the seven defendants in the scheme, rather than going with a large sum. Judge Burroughs said large sum restitutions are "overwhelming" and make the individual defendants less likely to pay.
(Photo: Getty Images)
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports