AmerisourceBergen exec blames DEA for opioid crisis during trial

David May, AmerisourceBergen's vice president of corporate security and diversion control, said the Drug Enforcement Administration is more responsible for West Virginia's opioid epidemic than his company, according to The Herald-Dispatch.

Huntington, W.Va., and the surrounding Cabell County presented opening arguments May 3 for a federal trial in which they are seeking more than $1 billion from opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health. The lawsuit alleges the distributors let their highly addictive opioids flood pharmacies, causing dramatic spikes in addiction and overdoses. 

During his May 17 testimony, Mr. May said AmerisourceBegen's abuse prevention systems extended beyond the DEA's requirements and other federal regulations. He said widespread opioid addiction can be attributed to a rise in prescriptions written by physicians, poor communication with regulatory bodies and pill quotas set by federal agencies.

After joining AmerisourceBergen in 2014, Mr. May attended meetings with the DEA to review the distributor's diversion control program. Emails shown in court said the DEA was satisfied with the program. Mr. May said he asked to hold similar meetings in the years since, but the DEA declined his requests.

Mr. May said the DEA lacks concrete guidance on the amount of opioids that constitutes a suspicious order. During the trial's second week, Cabell County attorney Paul Farrell Jr. showed Mr. May a 2007 letter in which the DEA said wholesalers must determine which orders are suspicious and compare a registrant's ordering to its customer base and patterns throughout the relevant area.

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