Pharmaceuticals

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

National Institutes of Health

Updated Monday, November 18, 2019 to include a visualization of pharmacy closure in the Mountain West.

A national study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that 1 in 8 pharmacies closed between the years 2009 and 2015. 

Counterintuitively, the total number of pharmacies is growing. 

“So you see kind of a net growth at a national level,” said Dima Qato, an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy and an author of the study. “But at the local, at the county, level there is variation. Some areas are not experiencing growth. Some counties are not only experiencing closures but they’re experiencing net loss.”

Pharmaceutical companies are facing scrutiny over the opioid crisis, but that hasn’t stopped them from giving millions of dollars to members of Congress, including many in the Mountain West.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis.

The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.

Updated at 10:44 p.m. ET

For the first time, a federal court in Ohio is releasing a trove of data that offers far more detail about the size and scope of the nation's opioid epidemic — and about the role played by drug companies and pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Johnson & Johnson that profited from the rapid growth of prescription opioid sales.

British company Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve all U.S. government investigations and claims in what is the biggest drug industry settlement to date stemming from the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

In a statement Thursday, Reckitt Benckiser denied wrongdoing but said the settlement deal "avoids the costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with continued investigations, litigation and the potential for an indictment."

Two years ago, the drug company Insys Therapeutics posted a quarter-billion dollars in annual sales. But the Arizona-based firm's fortunes plummeted so far that on Monday its leaders declared bankruptcy. It was the latest fall-out from the nation's prescription opioid epidemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and triggered hundreds of lawsuits against Big Pharma.

Insys Therapeutics, an opioid manufacturer, has agreed to pay $225 million to settle the federal government's criminal and civil investigations into the company's marketing practices. As part of the settlement, Insys Therapeutics admitted to bribing doctors to prescribe its opioid painkiller.

Last month, a federal jury in Boston found five top Insys Therapeutics executives guilty of racketeering conspiracy for these same practices. Now, the federal government is holding the company accountable.

Imagine for a minute: A company makes a vaccine that protects kids from a life-threatening disease but, with little warning, decides to stop selling it in the U.S.

That's exactly what happened last year in West Africa, for a vaccine against rotavirus — a disease that kills about 200,000 young children and babies each year.

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