Inside alleged scheme Insys Therapeutics used to sell deadly opioid: Part 1

A criminal indictment and hundreds of lawsuits accuse them of coaxing doctors with money and sexual favors to prescribe Subsys: a fentanyl spray for severe cancer pain.
9:46 | 03/08/19

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Transcript for Inside alleged scheme Insys Therapeutics used to sell deadly opioid: Part 1
My biggest regret is my children having to suffer the anguish of seeing their daddy in and out of hospitals and struggling to regain his health. Reporter: A battle weary hero who says he came closest to death thanks to a doctor's prescription. A tormented whistle-blower who feels she's trying to make up for past sins. I took this job thinking I was going to be helping people, and I was killing people. Reporter: A small-town attorney on a crusade against big pharma. I do not know how they look in the mirror, and I do not know how they put their head on the pillow at night. Reporter: All united for one common cause, to hold one company and its executives responsible for what they say is their role in the opioid crisis. Charged in Boston federal court. Accused of bribing doctors to prescribe an opioid. ABC news, do you have any comments on the allegation on the case. Reporter: The rags to riches founder stands accused of a scheme, a criminal indictment accuse them of coaxing doctors with money and sexual favors. A fentanyl spray for pain for thousands who didn't need it. Their now former company told ABC news it in no way defends the past misconduct of former employees and is fully cooperating with the government. Any comment? Reporter: Then prosecutors say, put profits over people, defrauding insurance companies to help pay for it all. Which medication are you calling about? Reporter: Prescription drugs like subsys are responsible for more than a third of opioid deaths, yet no pharmaceutical executive has ever been convicted in a criminal case. Prosecutors now hoping to change that, using federal racketeering charges, usually reserved for mobsters. The potential toll from this drug breathtaking. More than 7,000 deaths have been reported of people taking subsys, according to the fda adverse events reporting system. People who didn't have cancer but were prescribed the drug anyway. Make you wonder whether they should be charged with homicide. Reporter: Jeffrey never imagined he would end up in a shelter like this for homeless veterans. When we first met him last year he told us about his three tours of duty in Iraq where he says he was hit by multiple ied blasts. Hundred a broken back. The vertebrae had slipped off each other and the back was in jeopardy of sliding off and causing paralysis if not worse. Reporter: He flourished, settling in Maryland where he started a family. What did it mean to you to be a dad? Everything. It's the strength that you need when you don't feel like there's anything else to give you the motivation, to be the better version of yourself. Hey! Reporter: But there were still moments when the pain was unbearable. Give me a laundry list of the painkillers you've been on. I don't think there's one I haven't been on. . Reporter: Percocet. Percocet, oxycodone. Reporter: Were you addicted to any of those? I was taking more than I should, sleeping wrong, taking a fall where my back would flare up. I couldn't move. When that would happen, I'd always have to go to the emergency room to get treated. Reporter: Then, in 2010, he thought he found a better approach when he was introduced to a new doctor, William tam, a pain specialist in annapolis, This initially came out with him saying there's this new medication I think will keep you out of the emergency room. Reporter: That medication, subsys, 50 times more powerful than heroin. Squeeze your fingers and thumb together to spray subsys under your tongue. Reporter: It was fda approved for severe cancer pain, but Jeff and thousands like him were prescribed the drug off label, a legal and common practice for many drugs but tightly regulated for opiates. This is approved for one reason only, that's for cancer pain. Reporter: It didn't matter that Jeff didn't have cancer pain says a former employee. Could you estimate what percent of the patients you prior authorized had cancer? I would say from my experience, around 10 first. . Reporter: What mattered was that they were insured. They were asking me to lie to insurance companies about having cancer. A lot of it was word games. When the insurance company would ask the question, does the patient have cancer with break through cancer pain, when we would respond, we would say yes, we're treating the break through pain. Reporter: Prosecutors allege that insurance fraud was just one part of the scheme. Dissatisfied with sales they began a program to increase awareness. These programs are legal and common to teach doctors about new drugs. But prosecutors say they used theirs as a front for bribes. Pointing to, changes like this. One of the things they do is identify medical providers, physicians who are high prescribers of opioids. Reporter: Dr. Tam was allegedly part of the series. Government records show he received $55,000 from insys between 2013 and 2016. They were setting up sham speaking events. It was a means to have a fancy dinner and act like they were putting on an educational event that was legitimate. Reporter: In exchange, what happened to subsys prescriptions? They skyrocketed. Reporter: They would also treat doctors to lavish meals, often accompanied by sales reps I didn't have a strong connection with anyone. Reporter: A former reality show participant and playboy insys routinely used sex appeal to drive prescriptions. I have never seen such in your face, such egregious behavior, hiring drug reps that had no industry experience whatsoever, strippers. Just people who didn't have college degrees, had no understanding of the fda and regulations. Reporter: Socializing with doctors was a corporate strategy. Company e-mail showed then vice president of sales pressuring his staff in one of his many directives. And the strategy paid off. Between 2012 and 2013 the company saw more than 1,000% growth and net revenue of subsys sales, making it the darling of Wall Street. Execs all smiles as they opened the NASDAQ exchange. The following year, subsys became the most widely-prescribed drug of its type. By them, capour, a soft-spoking immigrant became one of the richest people in America. All the while, halg his drug as a win for patients and shareholders alike. That product that we launched three years ago, today, this year will do close to $300 million. ??? I got new patients ??? ??? and I got a lot of'em ??? Reporter: She's are insys reps, rapping about their conquests showcased at a national sales meeting in 2015. Under the fentanyl costume, the vp of sales. Meanwhile, Jeff says he was edging closer and closer to death. The come to Jesus moment was probably when I was in the E.R. The nurses were scared to death to give me those doses. Reporter: The doses were so off the charts. So off the charts. Reporter: You were taking the equivalent of 5,000 percocet a day? Yes, or they say equivalent to a gram of heroin. Reporter: A day. A day. Reporter: Jeff has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Tam, capoor there were more than 7,000 deaths associated with subsys and cited 951 cases of patients who passed away while on or having been suspected to have been on subsys and attempting to link the death of cancer patients to their use of subsys is inaccurate and misleading. John capoor has pled not guilty. In response to the allegations made by Jeff, the attorneys told ABC news they have no comment. Thanks, sweet heart. Reporter: That near-death hospital visit was the breaking point, Jeff says. He spent years working to get clean. Miss you guys. Reporter: He's escaped the grips of fentanyl but lost so much else he held dear. Why I survived, you know, when I shouldn't have, I owe it to myself, my family and all those who didn't to get my story out and to get back to the top of the mountain. Reporter: When we come back, the moment a whistle-blower says she came clean. You were getting anxiety attacks? Horrible anxiety attacks. Reporter: Why? I knew what I was doing was wrong. Reporter: Hear the evidence yourself. If they didn't make that call, she would have never been approved for the drug. Reporter: Stay with us. Stay with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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