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Former pharma CEO pleads guilty to bribing doctors to prescribe addictive opioids

The former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O) pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

Michael Babich, who resigned as the Arizona-based drugmaker’s CEO in 2015, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to conspiracy and mail fraud charges after entering into a cooperation deal with prosecutors.

His plea comes less than three weeks before five former Insys executives and managers including John Kapoor, its onetime billionaire founder and former chairman, face trial after being charged with participating in the scheme.

Babich, 42, faces up to 25 years in prison. But the Arizona resident could receive a more lenient sentence by testifying at Kapoor’s Jan. 28 trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak in court said Babich committed his crimes at Kapoor’s direction.

CONTINUE @ REUTERS