JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The effort to hold companies accountable for their role in the statewide opioid epidemic continues with a new lawsuit filed by the State of Mississippi against multiple opioid distributors.
The State filed a complaint in Hinds County Circuit Court against opioid distributors Cardinal Health, Inc., McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen Corporation for failing to prevent the diversion of opioids in Mississippi. The lawsuit alleges that these three companies, who distribute the majority of highly addictive opioids, have failed to prevent the diversion of those drugs by breaching their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report suspicious orders of opioids, which the Complaint states is a violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act.
As a result, Mississippi has been flooded with opioids and is suffering an ongoing public health crisis.
The State is seeking to curtail the massive flow of opioids being shipped into the State by these defendants which are then diverted into elicit markets.
“In 2017 alone, Mississippi had enough opioids supplied to provide 61 pills for every man, woman, and child in the State,” General Hood said. “If these distributors were attending to their supply rates, they would realize that amount of pills is way too large for a state the size of Mississippi. These companies must own up to their contribution to this deadly crisis, and I intend on holding them fully accountable.”
In 2017, there were over 3.3 million opioid prescriptions dispensed in Mississippi. That number equates to 182,882,444 opioid dosage units or 501,048 dosage units every day for 2017. The attorney general’s lawsuit against Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen will hold them responsible for their role in saturating Mississippi with opioids by failing in their duty under the law to report, investigate, and halt suspicious orders. The complaint alleges that if these companies had done what they were legally obligated to do, the opioid epidemic would not be what it is today.
“These very distributors have been subjected to enforcement actions and fines by the DEA for hundreds of millions of dollars for previously allowing the diversion of opioids to occur, yet they failed to take meaningful action to stop it,” General Hood said. “We will not allow them to continue getting away with this in Mississippi.”
General Hood led the nation in filing the first lawsuit on behalf of a state against multiple drug manufacturing companies for falsely marketing opioids as rarely addictive. The suit was filed in December 2015 in Hinds County Chancery Court against five of the largest opioid manufacturers. One of the companies in that suit, Purdue along with three of its executives, plead guilty in 2007 to federal charges and paid more than $600 million in fines related to intentional misrepresentations as to the addictiveness of OxyContin. General Hood charges that the companies deceived Mississippi Medicaid, doctors, and consumers in order to boost profits at the expense of innocent victims.