DOJ Suit Accuses Major Drug Distributor of Fueling US Opioid Epidemic

The Biden administration on Thursday filed swimsuit in opposition to one of many nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributors, AmerisourceBergen, and two of its subsidiaries for allegedly violating federal legislation and contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Filed within the U.S. District Court docket for the Jap District of Pennsylvania, the complaint accuses AmerisourceBergen of not less than tons of of 1000’s of violations of the Managed Substances Act. The U.S. Division of Justice (DOJ) is requesting civil penalties and injunctive reduction.

“The Division of Justice is dedicated to holding accountable those that fueled the opioid disaster by flouting the legislation,” Affiliate Lawyer Normal Vanita Gupta said in a press release. “Corporations distributing opioids are required to report suspicious orders to federal legislation enforcement. Our criticism alleges that AmerisourceBergen — which bought billions of items of prescription opioids over the previous decade — repeatedly did not adjust to that requirement.”

Anne Milgram, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a Justice Division company, highlighted that the criticism “alleges that the corporate’s repeated and systemic failure to satisfy this straightforward obligation helped ignite an opioid epidemic that has resulted in tons of of 1000’s of deaths over the previous decade.”

Citing information from the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse said earlier this 12 months that “opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained regular in 2018 with 46,802 deaths. This was adopted by a major improve by 2020 to 68,630 overdose deaths.”

The DOJ’s criticism spotlights 5 pharmacies to which AmerisourceBergen distributed medication: two in New Jersey and one every in Colorado, Florida, and West Virginia.

“For years, AmerisourceBergen put its earnings from opioid gross sales over the protection of People,” declared Philip R. Sellinger, the U.S. legal professional for the District of New Jersey. “Based on the criticism, this was a part of a brazen, blatant, and systemic failure by one of many largest firms in America.”

Jacqueline C. Romero, the U.S. legal professional for the Jap District of Pennsylvania, stated that “the allegations in opposition to AmerisourceBergen are disturbing, particularly for a corporation that’s headquartered only some miles from neighborhoods in Philadelphia devastated by the opioid epidemic.”

In a prolonged assertion responding to the brand new swimsuit, the distributor provided particulars about every of the 5 pharmacies, and claimed that the examples “have been cherry-picked by DOJ from the 1000’s of pharmacies AmerisourceBergen delivers medicines to be essentially the most incriminating to the corporate.”

“An goal evaluation of the information exhibits that the DOJ’s criticism about AmerisourceBergen is just an try and shift blame from previous administrations on the Division of Justice and particularly their company, the DEA, to industries they have been tasked with regulating,” the corporate added.

In the meantime, in a tweet Thursday, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) welcomed the “sturdy motion” from the DOJ “to carry pharma and distributors accountable for fueling the opioid disaster.”

Varied multibillion-dollar settlements for different fits have already been reached with opioid distributors, producers, and retailers — together with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Well being, CVS, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Walgreens, and Walmart.

Nonetheless, many policymakers, consultants, and advocates argue extra should be executed. As Jayapal put it: “All these firms should be held accountable. This can be a begin.”