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Oklahoma Suing Three Major Drug Companies

Drug companies are finally having to face the music about their business practices. Is it enough though?

Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter stated that Oklahoma was suing three of the U.S.’ largest drug distributors. He claims that they, “fueled the opioid crisis by supplying massive and patently unreasonable quantities of opioids to communities throughout the US, including Oklahoma.

The “big three” companies allegedly have supplied 34 billion doses of opioids to the country between 2006 and 2012. 1.4 billion of those pills were in Oklahoma alone. 2012 had 444 deaths by overdose in Oklahoma from opioids, which is close to their highest number in one year. 2009 saw 550 deaths, extraordinarily high numbers when viewing just a state by state basis.

Hunter also stated, “Defendants ignored their duties and responsibility to protect against oversupply and diversion of opioids for illicit and nonmedical uses. Defendants did so for one reason: Greed”.

There are a few major issues as to why this has happened. The top reason as Mike Hunter alluded to, is greed. Doctors who supply patients with pain pills can begin a stream of follow up visits and keep charging for appointments to write prescriptions. I’ve heard of doctors who charge 300 dollars flat for an appointment and people paid it because the doctor was known to write prescriptions for anyone even just claiming they were dealing with pain. We are talking about professional drug dealers here.

So what do the drug companies see when they see the demand for their pain killers going sky high? They see dollar signs, that is absolutely it. No concern for why more pills are being distributed or the very obvious crisis our country has been going through for the past 15 years.

We now have millions of people hooked on pain pills, innocent, hard-working individuals, who now have to go to something like an inpatient rehab in order to try and get their life back together.

There are doctors who do the right thing and will inform a patient of theirs if they think they are getting hooked on medication and keep patients from achieving drug-seeking behavior, but when you see numbers in the billions when it comes to pills prescribed per year, this is a major issue.

Oklahoma’s lawsuit states that these companies, McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen Corp, have distributed more opioids into communities throughout Oklahoma than necessary, completely ignoring red flags and just addressing health issues. The lawsuit claims the motive behind these companies is 100% about making money.

McKesson Corp responded to the lawsuit stating, “Any suggestion that McKesson drove demand for opioids in this country reflects a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of our role as a distributor. We will continue to fight that mischaracterization and defend ourselves in the litigation,”.

Obviously this is a purely manipulative and deflective response to the lawsuit. These companies have no problem doing what they are doing as long as they are padding their wallets. The worst case for companies like McKesson is they have to pay a settlement and then move on with their business doing the same exact thing.

Hunter has won previous lawsuits against opioid manufacturers which resulted in substantial settlements. Purdue had to cough up $270 million, Teva relinquished $85 million and Endo Pharmaceuticals with nearly $9 million.

These companies will pay up to shut these people up who are using them. There is never any talk about changing their business practice though. How many people must die from opiates before we start really putting a stranglehold on how to reduce the number that are distributed?

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