The founder and one-time CEO of a now infamous drug company faces decades in prison for his alleged role in a scheme to pay doctors thousands for writing more and more prescriptions of a powerful fentanyl spray once designed for end-stage cancer patients.

Investigators arrested John Kapoor, 74, in Arizona Thursday. The billionaire founded Insys Therapeutics in 1990.

Insys manufactures Subsys, an expensive fentanyl spray approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain.

Federal investigators believe Insys executives engineered a marketing plan that rewarded doctors – mainly in the pain management field – for writing Subsys prescriptions for patients who did not have cancer.

A number of people in Kapoor’s management team were indicted last year.

“The allegations of selling a highly addictive opioid cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer, make them no better than street-level dealers,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge inside the Boston branch of the FBI.

Doctors around the country received, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars from Insys between 2012 and 2015.

Those doctors were frequently paid up to $5,000 in speaking fees on a regular basis. Federal prosecutors believe many of the speaking engagements amounted to nothing more than free dinners and trips.

On Wednesday, a Rhode Island doctor pleaded guilty to accepting payments in return for writing more prescriptions for Subsys.

Dr. Jerrold Rosenberg faces up to 15 years in prison for accepting $188,000 in kickbacks from Insys.

Kapoor faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty.

If you know anyone who was prescribed Subsys in Colorado, please contact reporter Chris Vanderveen at