West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced the state is suing 14 drug wholesalers, in an effort to block distribution routes for “pill mills.”
McGraw wants to force stricter distribution of prescription drugs that are commonly abused, according to The Wall Street Journal. He alleges the drug wholesalers have benefited from West Virginia’s prescription drug abuse problem. The targeted companies include Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and Watson Pharmaceuticals.
According to the attorney general’s complaint, the drug wholesalers supplied controlled substances, including oxycodone, to drugstores, which dispensed the drugs based on prescriptions from doctors who prescribed them for non-legitimate medical purposes.
The state hopes to recover damages, create medical monitoring for people struggling with drug abuse, and force companies to quickly alert state authorities about suspicious orders.
“We are seeking to make major drug distributors that have substantially benefited from prescription drug abuse accept responsibility and pay for their illicit actions,” Mr. McGraw said in a news release. According to McGraw’s office, West Virginia fills almost seven more prescriptions per person each year than the U.S. average.
In May, Cardinal Health announced it would suspend shipments of controlled substances from a warehouse in Florida for two years, under an agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The company also agreed to work to improve security procedures at its distribution center in Lakeland, Florida, to ensure that opioids are not diverted into the wrong hands.
Earlier this year, the DEA charged Cardinal and four pharmacies with violating their licenses to sell controlled drugs. The DEA said Cardinal had an unusually high number of shipments of controlled painkillers to four pharmacies. The agency suspended Cardinal’s controlled substance license at its distribution center in Lakeland. The center serves 2,500 pharmacies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. After the DEA suspended the company’s license, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the DEA’s suspension order.
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