Oklahoma sues McKesson, Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen over the opioid crisis

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a lawsuit Jan. 13 against Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, three of the country's largest drug distributors, alleging they helped fuel the opioid crisis by funnelling "unreasonable" amounts of opioids into the state, The Hill reported. 

Mr. Hunter said the three companies supplied more than 1.4 billion opioid pills in Oklahoma between 2006 and 2012, which is more than could have been expected to serve a legitimate medical need. He added that the companies did not stop or report suspicious drug orders because they were making so much money off the opioids. 

The lawsuit alleges negligence and unjust enrichment and is seeking compensatory damages, according to The Hill. 

"Beyond our reporting and immediate halting of potentially suspicious orders, we refuse service to customers we deem as a diversion risk and provide daily reports to the DEA that detail the quantity, type and the receiving pharmacy of every single order of these products that we distribute," AmerisourceBergen told The Hill.

McKesson told The Hill that any suggestion it drove demand for opioids is a "fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of our role as a distributor." 

"We are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves at trials and are confident that the facts presented will show we take our role and the responsibility that comes with it seriously, work hard every day to get it right, and make changes when we find ways to improve," a Cardinal Health spokesperson told Becker's Hospital Review

The three distributors have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements over the opioid crisis. Last October, the three of them, along with drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical, reached a last-minute $260 million settlement to avoid the bellwether federal opioid trial. 

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