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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri expands legal battle against opioid industry

Missour Attorney General Josh Hawley announces he's issuing subpoenas against three opioid distributors.
Provided |Office of attorney general
Missour Attorney General Josh Hawley announces he's issuing subpoenas against three opioid distributors.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has issued subpoenas to three companies that distribute opioids throughout the United States.

The subpoenas were issued to AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation. As opioid overdoses rise across the country, Hawley is accusing those companies of putting profits ahead of patient health.

“This is how,” said Hawley on Tuesday. “Federal and state laws require these distributors to report any suspicious activity. But among other facts, the sheer volume of opioids that they have delivered to multiple locations is inherently suspicious.”

He continued: “The evidence suggests that these companies chose to look the other way, oversupply pharmacies and other outlets, and make millions of dollars in profits … well, not anymore.”

Hawley said refusal to cooperate could result in lawsuits being filed against the three opioid distributors.

He filed a separate suit in St. Louis in June against three companies that manufacture opioids. And in August issued subpoenas against seven other pharmaceutical corporations.

In response, AmerisourceBergen issued a statement saying it “welcomes the opportunity to engage with Attorney General Hawley and the people of Missouri.”

John Parker of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a trade organization that represents AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, said in a statement: “The idea that distributors are solely responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and how it is regulated.”

“Distributors are logistics companies that arrange for the safe and secure storage, transport, and delivery of medicines from manufacturers to pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and others based on prescriptions from licensed physicians,” the statement continued. “We don’t make medicines, market medicines, prescribe medicines, or dispense them to consumers.”

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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