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Book Launch: The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes with Leon Neyfakh

March 31, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Join POWERHOUSE for the launch of The Hard Sell by award-winning writer Evan Hughes, in conversation with journalist Leon Neyfakh!

Event Guidelines.

  • All guests must be vaccinated to attend. Proof of vaccination must be shown at the door.
  • All attendees must wear a face covering at all times while inside.
  • Tickets are limited due to store capacity. Each ticket includes either a copy of the featured book.
  • Additional copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event and online.
  • A book signing will follow the talk and Q&A.



John Kapoor had already amassed a small fortune in pharmaceuticals when he founded Insys Therapeutics. It was the early 2000s, a boom time for painkillers, and he developed a novel formulation of fentanyl, the most potent opioid on the market.

Kapoor, a brilliant immigrant scientist with relentless business instincts, was eager to make the most of his innovation. He gathered around him an ambitious group of young lieutenants. His head of sales—an unstable and unmanageable leader, but a genius of persuasion—built a team willing to pull every lever to close a sale, going so far as to recruit an exotic dancer ready to scrape her way up. They zeroed in on the eccentric and suspect doctors receptive to their methods. Employees at headquarters did their part by deceiving insurance companies. The drug was a niche product, approved only for cancer patients in dire condition, but the company’s leadership pushed it more widely, and together they turned Insys into a Wall Street sensation.

But several insiders reached their breaking point and blew the whistle. They sparked a sprawling investigation that would lead to a dramatic courtroom battle, breaking new ground in the government’s fight to hold the drug industry accountable in the spread of addictive opioids.

In The Hard Sell: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup, National Magazine Award–finalist Evan Hughes lays bare the pharma playbook. He draws on unprecedented access to insiders of the Insys saga, from top executives to foot soldiers, from the patients and staff of far-flung clinics to the Boston investigators who treated the case as a drug-trafficking conspiracy, flipping cooperators and closing in on the key players.

With colorful characters and true suspense, The Hard Sell offers a bracing look not just at Insys, but at how opioids are sold at the point they first enter the national bloodstream—in the doctor’s office.


“A feat of rigorous sleuthing and deft storytelling that unfolds with the velocity and verve of a Scorsese film. Everything about the Insys saga feels amplified to its utmost extreme—greed, ambition, criminality, hustle, intrigue, betrayals—and this is that rare story of the opioid crisis in which the bad guys face a genuine reckoning. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A tour de force.”—Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Pain and Say Nothing

“Filled with odd and scintillating details, The Hard Sell plots the winding way one drug company and its associated doctors helped to beget the latest wave in our ongoing opioid crisis.”—Errol Morris, Academy Award–winning filmmaker

“A revelatory deep dive into the ignominious history of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Insys Therapeutics…Hughes does an excellent job of illuminating the inner workings of Big Pharma’s malicious practices…A powerful indictment of abhorrent industry practices.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)


EVAN HUGHES was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Reporting in 2015. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, New York, Wired, and The New York Review of Books. He is the author of Literary Brooklyn.


March 31, 2022
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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28 Adams Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States

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