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West Virginia Opioid Trial is Reckoning for Big Pharma

During the years when the prescription Opioid epidemic was out of control, McKesson executives issued at least two memos instructing workers to refrain from using the word ‘suspicious’ when describing growing Opioid orders from drugstore chains. This week, the documents were made public this week as part of a groundbreaking federal drug study currently underway in West Virginia, one of the states hardest impacted by Opioid overdose deaths.

The issue revolves around statements made by officials in Cabell County and Huntington. They claim that tens of millions of prescribed Opioid pills were supplied to local pharmacies, wreaking havoc on their 90,000-strong community. The trial’s outcome will determine whether drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson face liability across the country for allegedly failing to stop the supply of prescribed opiates that were later abused.

The pharmaceutical corporations claim they did nothing wrong and were filling lawful prescriptions while being closely monitored by government regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. ACCORDING TO MICHAEL ORIENTE, the DEA examined McKesson’s safety procedures multiple times, an executive who manages the company’s Opioid shipments.

Federal inspectors audited McKesson’s drug distribution hubs in one instance, he said. McKesson has paid the Justice Department substantial settlements twice for “alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act,” the most recent being a $150 million payment in 2017. There was no misconduct on the part of the corporation.The testimony and records presented during this civil trial have provided a rare and often unsettling peek into the inner workings of some of America’s top firms that have become deeply involved in the Opioid industry.

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