McKesson, a drug distribution giant, has decided to settle a lawsuit in West Virginia with a 37 million dollar settlement. The company paid $14.5 million upon settling and will pay another $4.5 million a year for the next five years.
About the Lawsuit
The original lawsuit accused the drug distributor of turning a willfully blind eye to suspicious behavior. Many opioid distributors have been charged with ignoring abnormally large orders, such as massive amounts of pills sent to different pharmacies across the state repeatedly.
When irregularities were noted, the company did nothing to investigate.
As part of the settlement, McKesson did not have to admit any wrongdoings.
McKesson’s Ongoing Trouble
This lawsuit is not the company’s first lawsuit for its practices regarding opioids. In 2017, the McKesson paid $150 million in penalties. They were forced to suspend sales of opioids in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida after being accused of violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
McKesson agreed with the federal government to make “improvements” to its system. Alongside these improvements, the company was forced into hiring an “independent monitor” to assess compliance.
The company still faces lawsuits in other jurisdictions. They’re not the only ones in the pharmaceutical business feeling the heat; a jury recently convicted Insys of criminal racketeering charges, with several executives now facing prison time. Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, also faces lawsuits across the United States. They recently settled a lawsuit in Ohio for $240 million.
The Opioid Crisis in West Virginia
The money from the McKesson will provide some much-needed funds to a state that’s been struck by the opioid epidemic. The state government says they’ll use the funds to address drug abuse in West Virginia, using the money for addiction treatment and job training.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in West Virginia, there are 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the nation
More people overdose in West Virginia than anywhere of the country and the state is struggling to hold some of the companies peddling drugs responsibly.
Some of the orders that McKesson filled for doctor offices and patients were incredibly high; prosecutors said that there was enough hydrocodone (brand name Percocet) and oxycodone (brand name Oxycontin) to supply every sick person with 3,000 doses.
Experts believe that many of those doses went to alleged “pill mills,” where doctors supplied people with painkillers en masse. Some of the drugs would then end up for sale on the street, where people who could no longer get prescriptions from their doctors would buy them off the street.