The government has been very clear on its take on the current opioid crisis. It is coming down on medical professionals that do not follow regulations when prescribing these medications and pushing for serious penalties.
In one recent case, the government was able to successfully take it to the next level. A federal jury found executives of Insys, and opioid manufacturer, guilty of racketeering.
What is racketeering? This white-collar crime is in the same group as offenses like fraud and identity theft. a racketeering charge is generally prosecuted as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violation. To pursue a violation under RICO or similar state statute, the prosecution needs to establish the accused ran an organization that conducted illegal activity.
In these cases, the prosecution could establish that the accused ran the pharmaceutical company. That would qualify as an organization. The next step would be establishing that the company conducted illegal activity. In this case, after over two weeks of deliberation, the jury decided the officials had skirted the law by bribing physicians and failing to fully inform insurance companies of the highly addictive nature of the medication.
What does this holding mean? The healthcare industry continues to evolve. The justice system is attempting to keep up. This holding shows that the system and the public will hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.
Similar lawsuits are currently moving forward in Massachusetts and New York against the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid medication OxyContin. We will provide updates on these cases as they become available.