BOSTON — A former executive of a national pharmaceutical firm was indicted on charges of bribery and sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison in a case that prosecutors allege helped enable the national opioid crisis.

Judge Allison Burroughs charged Michael Gurry, 56 of Scottsdale, AZ on federal racketeering charges in a Boston Federal Court earlier on Monday, receiving a sentence of 33 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons followed by 3 years of conditional supervised release with conditions, a special assessment of $100,000 and pay restitution to be determined at a later date. Gurry had been previously convicted of RICO conspiracy by a federal jury in May and is expected to forfeit approximately $3.6 million in damages.

Prosecutors allege that Gurry, the former Vice President of Managed Markets for Invensys Therapeutics, was instrumental in developing a strategy which paid millions of dollars in bribes to physicians nationwide to over-prescribe Subsys, a highly addictive fentanyl-based painkiller used in cancer treatment. Part of Gurry’s scheme reportedly included deliberately misleading insurers, including falsifying records of cancer history in some patients, to reimburse the cost of individual Subsys prescription by as much as $19,000 a month.

Gurry’s sentence is the first in a series for seven other executives of Invensys expected to be delivered later this month in Boston, including former CEO John Kapoor.

“As alleged, top executives of Insys Therapeutics, Inc. paid kickbacks and committed fraud to sell a highly potent and addictive opioid that can lead to abuse and life-threatening respiratory depression,” said Harold Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division, at the time of Gurry’s 2016 arrest.  “In doing so, they contributed to the growing opioid epidemic and placed profit before patient safety.  These indictments reflect the steadfast commitment of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to confront the opioid epidemic impacting our communities while bringing to justice those who seek to profit from fraud or other criminal acts.”

Gurry's attorneys appealed for less than a year in prison in lieu of the initial 132-month sentence federal prosecutors sought, noting his previous record of military service and arguing that Gurry did not actively engage in the bribery conspiracy.

During the proceedings, Gurry publicly apologized for his alleged role in Subsys addiction, claiming he had no knowledge of its widespread abuse. Three victims spoke in court during Gurry’s sentencing on Monday about how they'd been prescribed the drug despite no diagnosis of cancer.

Gurry is expected to surrender to an undisclosed federal prison facility on February 25th. His attorneys indicated they’ll appeal his sentencing in the coming months.

Image via Wikimedia Commons