OK Sues Three Opioid Distributors for ‘Reckless Behavior’

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Oklahoma officials sued opioid distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen in state court Monday, saying the companies failed to stop and report suspiciously large orders of opioid prescription drugs that were diverted and killed scores of addicts, Courthouse News Service reports. Oklahoma Attorney Mike Hunter sued the firms in Cleveland County District Court on claims of negligence and unjust enrichment. He accused the defendants of failing to alert state and federal authorities of “suspiciously large orders” of the highly addictive opioid prescription drugs into the state. Opioid distributors are required to stop and report suspiciously large orders unless due diligence is performed to disprove suspicion of the orders. Hunter told reporters the trio “made billions of dollars” supplying the vast quantities of drugs into the state, resulting in diversion, addiction and overdose deaths.

“The companies engaged in reckless behavior and need to be held accountable for their role in creating the nation’s worst manmade public health crisis that continues to devastate communities,” Hunter said. He said McKesson has paid over $163 million in fines and settlements since 2008 for its failure to report improper management and distribution of opioids to pharmacies. Cardinal Health has paid almost $100 million. McKesson rejected any suggestion that it “drove demand for opioids,” saying the accusation “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of our role as distributor.” AmerisourceBergen said “we refuse service to customers we deem as a diversion risk.” The lawsuit comes two months after Oklahoma won a $465 million judgment against opioid maker Johnson & Johnson in state court.

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