Our school of pharma doth deplore

The racketeering John Kapoor.

We’ve ordered a slurry

Cuz we’re in a hurry

To sandblast his name from the door.

Hiroshima, Mon Kapoor

Unlike benighted Yeshiva University which, when stories of the arrest of their esteemed trustee/treasurer Bernie Madoff broke, went into full silence, denial, web-erasure, Bernie who?, we’re a victim mode, the University at Buffalo, on receiving today’s atomic bomb about mega-donor and (wait for it) pharmacy school namesake John Kapoor, quickly and admirably issued a statement.

That’s the way you’re supposed to go when something grand and consequent and deeply embarrassing happens to your university: spit it out. Acknowledge it. And then when – inevitably – you have to blast the Kapoor name off of the building his massive fatal peddling of fentanyl has turned into a sick joke, you have as it were laid the groundwork for the blasting.

There’s a long description of the Kapoor caper here. To save time, here’s UD‘s paraphrase of it, a sentiment out of Norman Mailer:



Thanks, dmf.


Inaugurating the building soon to be renamed the Kermit West Virginia Memorial Hall.


[Kapoor’s] Insys even made a video featuring a sales rep dressed as a giant fentanyl spray bottle, rapping and dancing to a song that pushed the idea of getting doctors to prescribe higher doses…

“The ones with lines of patients in the parking lot, or sitting on the [office] floor drinking Mountain Dew – pretty tell-tale sign that that’s gonna be the doctor you’re gonna wanna engage with.”

From a documentary about the pride of SUNY Buffalo, Mr Fentanyl himself, John Kapoor.

Well… what are you gonna do…

[UPDATE as the trial begins tomorrow:

Also on trial is Sunrise Lee, a former stripper who, as an Insys sales manager, enticed physicians into writing more prescriptions, prosecutors said. “Doctors really enjoyed spending time with her and found Sunrise to be a great listener,” another manager, Alec Burlakoff, told colleagues, according to court filings.]

Kapoor Hall, the fancy pharmacy school building at the University of Buffalo, was dedicated only a few years ago, with a big ol’ ribbon-cutting ceremony and all. John Kapoor himself was there to share his inspiring immigrant story, along with tips on how to run a profitable pharma concern with integrity.

Did UB have any inkling when it took his money that, this Monday, Kapoor’s trial, for “conspiring to pay doctors bribes and kickbacks that were disguised as fees for speaking events,” will put quite the spotlight on their decision to monumentalize him? Since Kapoor’s arrest (and the guilty pleas of several of his company’s executives; and the guilty pleas or upcoming trials of a number of bribed doctors — one of whom is a GW grad! This guy “ignored and bullied patients who resisted staying on the powerful pain-killing spray.”), the school has gone this way and that on whether to sandblast the name of a man who basically shoved for-cancer-pain-only fentanyl down the throats of thousands of people who came to their pusher-doctors complaining of sore knees and elbows. Some of those people are dead; quite a few are addicted; and far be it from UD to deny that this represents one logical and popular way to earn billions in the pharma trade… But the question before us is: Wouldn’t a little due diligence (given how relatively late in his criminal career UB did business with him) have spared Buffalo a good deal of trouble and embarrassment?

An excellent editorial in the Tufts student newspaper…

… which the university will ignore.

[T]he Tufts administration still has not openly acknowledged the [opioid merchants] Sacklers’ role in fueling the opioid crisis. In light of the recent exposés, Tufts should publicly recognize its own complicity in receiving money tainted by the epidemic, resolving to take an active stance against it. In order to align its values, Tufts should change the name of its biomedical school to better reflect the mission of the institution. With any remaining funds from the Sackler family, Tufts should fund research grants for the opioid crisis and further support outreach programs for its victims.

[President] Monaco and the Tufts Board of Trustees should revoke the honorary degree conferred on Raymond Sackler posthumously. There is past precedent for this. Bill Cosby, although never found guilty of sexual assault, had his honorary degree revoked by Tufts. Someone the university has honored has committed an egregious moral, if not illegal, offense, and the university must withdraw its support.

Tufts won’t ignore the, er, Sackler problem forever. But, like Yale, it will hem and haw and harrumph as long as it possibly can.

Will it, like SUNY Buffalo, still burdened with the risible Kapoor School of Pharmacy, decide (Buffalo will probably decide – especially if their man goes to jail) to desacklerize (Clever, UD. Why is it clever? Because it’s very close to desacralize, see.) its biomed school?

Probably. The Sacklers are still dumping their opioids all over Asia. But the decision will be long in coming. From Yale and from Tufts we will hear a long involved contradictory emotional story about what a blessing opioids have been for the world though unfortunately… I mean, to be sure…

Latest UD posts at IHE