opioids

A routine traffic stop in the city of Jamestown Tuesday afternoon led to the seizure of drugs and the arrests of two people on a number of charges.

The Erie County Health Department has issued an alert regarding an increase in suspected opioid overdose deaths over the past few days.

UB graduate Kapoor sentenced for opioid-related scheme

Jan 23, 2020
Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo

A 1972 University at Buffalo graduate and founder of an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme that prosecutors said helped fuel the opioid crisis.

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.

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his tenth State of the State address Wednesday in Albany. WBFO reporters took in-depth look at what the governor and others are saying about some key challenges the state faces at the start of a new decade.

WBFO file photo

A Williamsville pain specialist, who had been accused of causing six overdose deaths, has admitted to unlawfully prescribing painkillers over the course of a decade. 

 


In a high profile opioid case, a federal judge has overturned, in part, convictions against executives at Insys Therapeutics, the maker of a liquid fentanyl painkiller called Subsys. U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Insys violated the Controlled Substances Act.

The convictions for wire and mail fraud handed down in May against Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor and former executives Michael Gurry, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan, still stand.

Maisie Gillan was 9 months old when she happened upon a stray prescription methadone pill on the floor of her neighbors' home, swallowed it, and died a few hours later. 


Thomas O'Neil-White

Around 900 University at Buffalo students participated in a forum addressing opioid addiction at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on Thursday. The forum has hosted nearly 3,000 students, across 12 different health profession disciplines over its four years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that will now require that death certificates in cases of opioid overdose specify which opioid was involved in the death, if known. This will make it easier to track the data and provide the most accurate information needed to better address the opioid crisis.

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A coalition of advocates called End Overdose New York is urging immediate action, as the State Senate’s Joint Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention meets in Buffalo Wednesday.

Three major U.S. drug distributing companies are negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlement to end numerous lawsuits filed by state and local governments seeking compensation for costs associated with the opioid crisis.

The drug distributors — Amerisource Bergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health — could pay as much as $18 billion over 18 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the discussions.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 24

Make no mistake: The legal fight over liability for the U.S. opioid crisis is only heating up.

There's no doubt that opioids have been massively overprescribed in U.S. In the haste to address the epidemic, there's been pressure on doctors to reduce prescriptions of these drugs — and in fact prescriptions are declining. But along the way, some chronic pain patients have been forced to rapidly taper or discontinue the drugs altogether.

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new message for doctors: Abrupt changes to a patient's opioid prescription could harm them.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.

File Photo

A group of New York inmates is suing the state prison system, saying its efforts to crack down on prescription drug abuse have gone too far.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said they are no better than a corner drug dealer. He was referring to corporate opioid makers. Poloncarz sees the county's lawsuits against them benefitting from an Oklahoma judge's ruling this week that Johnson & Johnson intentionally played down the risks, oversold the benefits of the drugs and must pay $572 million.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state's opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Oklahoma sought $17.5 billion, blaming Johnson & Johnson for fueling the crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the state.

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Monday that his office is on track to declare the end of the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis as early as next year.

Thomas O'Neil-White/WBFO News

Four Western New York hospitals have been added to the growing list of places where people can safely get rid of used needles and unwanted medications.

Opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, just five days after agreeing to pay $225 million to settle the federal government's criminal and civil cases against the company for bribing doctors to prescribe its fentanyl-based painkiller.

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.

Steven Senne / AP

The University at Buffalo Council has passed a resolution to “un-name” the pharmacy school building named in honor of John Kapoor. Kapoor was convicted of racketeering conspiracy by a federal jury last month.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

A jury in Boston has found onetime billionaire and drug company executive John Kapoor and his four co-defendants guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict came Wednesday after 15 days of deliberation.

City of Buffalo

Retiring Buffalo City Court Chief Judge Thomas Amodeo was honored in a special ceremony Thursday that also announced his successor.

A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation's opioid crisis and profiting from it.

Drug Enforcement Agency

First there was heroin. Then fentanyl. Then carfentanil. Now butyryl. Ever-stronger variations of the deadly opioid are making their way through Western New York.

Federal prosecutors late Tuesday charged British drugmaker Indivior with felony fraud and conspiracy for its marketing of opioid products including Suboxone. The company allegedly created a "nationwide scheme" in the U.S. designed to convince doctors and government insurance providers that Indivior's patented opioid medications are safer and less prone to abuse than cheaper generic alternatives.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

With less than a week to go to the state budget deadline, interest groups have converged on Albany, lobbying to get their measures included in the budget plan - and in some cases, to keep items out.

File Photo / WBFO News

New York State is considering providing medication-assisted treatment to all prison and jail inmates struggling with opioid addiction.

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