The first prosecution of a pharmaceutical company chief executive tied to opioid overdoses begins this week, when Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s John Kapoor goes on trial. The fallout may jolt an industry facing steep penalties for its own role in the crisis.

Kapoor, 75, is accused of masterminding illegal marketing tactics that contributed to an epidemic of addiction and death. A onetime billionaire who rose from modest means in India, he’s on trial for using speakers’ fees, dinners and cash to lure doctors into prescribing a highly addictive opioid painkiller meant solely for cancer patients.

John Kapoor leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix in 2017.
Photographer: Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo

The case will be heard...