McKesson sued for alleged improper drug order oversight

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against McKesson, alleging the distributor failed to help stop suspicious drug orders from entering the state.

According to the lawsuit, McKesson "was on notice that West Virginia law required it…to provide effective controls and procedures to guard against diversion of controlled substances" in an effort to curb abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, an issue with high rates in the state. The lawsuit cites data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that indicates West Virginia has the highest overdose rate in the country.

The lawsuit states McKesson distributed nearly 99.5 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to West Virginia between 2007 and 2012, and the lawsuit suggests these high shipment rates added to the overdose rate, decreased worker productivity and a drying out of statewide resources.

According to the lawsuit, McKesson supplied enough hydrocodone and oxycodone to West Virginia to provide each patient in the state with 7,880.9 doses between 2007 and 2012.

"The Defendant had a legal duty to investigate and prevent the misuse of the highly addictive prescriptions medications with which it was flooding the State of West Virginia," alleges the lawsuit. "The Defendant's actions were grossly negligent when it failed to identify and suspend shipments of highly addictive controlled substances that were suspicious orders."

Attorney General Morrisey said in a statement, "We have carefully investigated this matter and believe that McKesson should be held responsible for its alleged failure to comply with the state's laws."

The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for violations of West Virginia's controlled substances act and to charge McKesson with negligent violation of law, intentional acts and omissions, public nuisance, negligence and unfair methods of competition, among other counts.

"While we don't comment on pending litigation against us, we share the view that the substance abuse epidemic is a serious problem and we will continue to work with our supply chain partners in support of our prevention efforts. A solution must involve many players, including doctors, pharmacies, wholesalers, manufacturers and government regulators," McKesson said in a statement.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:54 pm CST on Jan. 12, 2016 to include comments from McKesson.

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