Ring of Fire: Attacking the Crisis At The Source: Local Governments in Alabama and Ohio File Suit Against Opioid Distributors

Ring of Fire: Attacking the Crisis At The Source: Local Governments in Alabama and Ohio File Suit Against Opioid Distributors

Over the past three weeks, ten municipal and county-level governments in Ohio and Alabama have been filing lawsuits against three major distributors of opioid medications, citing violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and federal racketeering laws. Defendants are also accused of creating a public nuisance and face allegations of negligence. The most recent lawsuit was filed on Wednesday. Although no drug manufacturers have been named, these legal actions represent a major step forward in dealing with the nation’s opioid crisis at its source – by going after the suppliers.

The named defendants are AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, distributors of prescription drugs are required to report any suspicious orders and prevent drug shipments from being diverted whenever possible. Plaintiffs allege that these companies “universally failed to comply with federal law.” One complaint, filed by Ross County, Ohio, states that they “[have] reason to believe each [distributor] has engaged in unlawful conduct which resulted in the diversion of prescription opioids into our community.” In May, Ross County Attorney General Michael DeWine also filed a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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