Between February 2021 and February 2022, a horrifying 108,000 Americans died from opioids. This includes products like oxycontin, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and morphine.
Many of the worst of these addictions didn’t start on a street corner or a dark basement. They started in the well-lit interior of a doctor’s office. They moved forward thanks to a prescription from a doctor.
Though now one of the main drug distributors by the name of AmerisourceBergen is facing a massive lawsuit. This is for allowing prescriptions to be collected that appeared to be possibly or clearly fraudulent scores by addicts through pill mills.
These are doctors and clinics which give prescriptions to anyone who will pay, regardless of whether they actually need them or have a real health crisis.
DOJ files major opioid lawsuit against Conshohocken-based Amerisource-Bergen. Accused of failing to report hundreds of thousands of suspicious opioid orders. @Healthcare_ABC
— sarahbloomquist (@sarahbloomquist) December 29, 2022
What Are the Specifics of This Lawsuit?
AmerisourceBergen is a drug distributor. They make sure people have the drugs they need to get their prescriptions filled.
This includes a role in making sure that prescriptions are legitimate to some degree, the plaintiffs argue. You can’t just ship tons of morphine around the country without caring who it’s going to.
This is basic controlled substance law. Yet, AmerisourceBergen stands accused of doing just that.
Big Pharma Has a Big Problem
According to the complaint, prosecutor Philip Sellinger says AmerisourceBergen ignored the “safety” of Americans and overlooked clearly suspicious prescriptions and patterns of prescriptions.
In so doing, Sellinger and his complainants argue that AmerisourceBergen contributed to the opioid epidemic. This lawsuit could rack up to billions of dollars for AmerisourceBergen and is essentially their worst nightmare.
It’s also got a good chance of success, considering a similar precedent was used to find Teva Pharmaceuticals guilty of negligence in allowing shady prescriptions. They paid out $523 million in settlements in that lawsuit.
BREAKING: #BNNUS Reports.
U.S. government on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing AmerisourceBergen Corp @Healthcare_ABC of helping ignite the nation's deadly opioid epidemic by failing to report hundreds of thousands of suspicious orders of prescription painkillers. pic.twitter.com/ajtSUcC3LK
— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) December 29, 2022
What Happens Next?
Various pharmacies are named in this lawsuit for allowing fraudulent prescriptions to be pushed through many times under the umbrella of AmerisourceBergen.
After the giant learned that pharmacies were filling fake prescriptions it continued to allow them regardless, the lawsuit alleges.
The Pennsylvania-based company pushed through many false prescriptions according to the lawsuit, including knowingly prioritizing drugs like the commonly-abused 30mg oxycodone tablets to be shipped to pharmacies identified as hotspot pill mills already.
In other words, AmerisourceBergen put profits ahead of human life, according to this lawsuit.
In Colorado, lawyer Cole Finegan representing the state said AmerisourceBergen’s actions there represent the “shirking” of a “key obligation” and they need to be held criminally responsible.
The Bottom Line
AmerisourceBergen is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Nonetheless, these allegations are troubling, to say the least.
America’s opioid epidemic is deadly serious. It’s not going to start getting better until corporations, doctors, and pharmacies start also putting in place stricter guidelines to fill prescriptions.
Granted that won’t stop people from going to the street for some heroin. Though it will stop many future addicts from ever getting the first hit from behind a pharmacy counter that eventually leads to the end of their life.This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.