The federal government has decided to escalate its lawsuit against an opioid distribution company and its executives in a first such court case.
In the first real court case against one of the companies fueling the opioid crisis in America, the federal government will be escalating its action against bad actors in the pharmaceutical industry.
Rochester Drug Cooperative is a drug distribution company that is facing federal charges for conspiring to distribute drugs and defrauding the federal government.
According to the federal governement, the sixth-largest drug distributor in the US failed to report thousands of suspicious orders of opioids, among which some were for oxycodone and fentanyl.
Opioid sales have been on the rise over the last 20 years, they peaked around 2011, and ever since the federal services have been working hard on pushing the number of written prescriptions down.
The former CEO Laurence Doud and former chief of compliance William Pietruszewski will also be going to court for their own cases, and not just on behalf of the company.
Both executives will be facing maximum sentences of life in prison and a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years on the drug trafficking charges, as well as five-year sentences for the charge of defrauding the government.
DEA gets involved
The company quickly came out in public and admitted to making mistakes in its ordering and shipping processes.
Rochester Drug Cooperative received over 1.5 million orders for controlled substances from its pharmacy customers in a 4-year period, of which it reported only four suspicious orders to the DEA.
According to the complaint filed by the federal government, there were over 2000 suspicious orders that needed to be reported to the DEA.
“We made mistakes,” Jeff Eller, a Rochester spokesperson, said in a statement, “and RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences.”
This isn’t the first time that a drug distributor is facing legal consequences regarding the opioid crisis. CVS, McKesson, and Walgreens all had their fair share of private lawsuits.
But, this is the first time the federal government went against one of the Big Pharma companies, which will face federal charges similar to those meant for drug dealers and traffickers.
The courts will most likely hear the never ending story we’ve already heard before from these Big Pharma companies — “all our intentions were fueled by desire to have a bigger profit margin and create shareholder value… ” and it’s sickening to think that they might get away with it, again.