Drug distributor, ex-CEO + COO indicted in connection with opioid conspiracy

Prosecutors criminally charged a prescription drug distributor and two of its former top executives in New York April 23, marking a first in the nation's fight against the opioid epidemic, according to NBC News.

Chili, N.Y.-based Rochester Drug Co-Operative, one of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S., faces charges for conspiracy to violate narcotics laws, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and purposefully not reporting suspicious orders.

The company's former CEO Laurence Doud III and its ex-COO William Pietruszewski individually face conspiracy and fraud charges, and life in prison.

According to prosecutors, Rochester Drug Co-Operative distributed tens of millions of doses of oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids to pharmacies between 2012 and 2016. The distributions occurred despite the fact that its compliance department didn't find a need for the drugs, according to NBC News.

In addition, Rochester Drug Co-Operative only reported four of the 8,300 "potentially suspicious 'orders of interest,' including thousands of oxycodone orders" it identified between 2012 and 2016, according to prosecutors. Rochester Drug Co-Operative's oxycodone tablet sales grew almost nine-fold during that time to 42.2 million tablets, compared to 4.7 million.

The U.S. attorney's office also filed a lawsuit against Rochester Drug Co-Operative April 23. The company entered a plea agreement in the criminal case and a settlement in the civil case, according to NBC News. The company will pay a $20 million fine, reform its compliance program and allow an independent monitor to supervise the distributor.

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