US sues Conshohocken-based AmerisourceBergen, saying it fueled opioid epidemic

US sues Conshohocken-based AmerisourceBergen, saying it fueled opioid epidemic

CONSHOCKEN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — One of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of prescription drugs failed hundreds of thousands of times over the past decade to report suspicious opioid orders, fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic by putting profits on security, federal prosecutors said Thursday. .

Conshohocken, Pa.-based AmerisourceBergen. and two of its subsidiaries were accused in a civil complaint of ignoring red flags that suggested some pharmacies were diverting opioids to illegal markets.

The complaint said AmerisourceBergen reported few suspicious orders and continued to supply the pharmacies for years.

On Thursday, we spoke with someone directly affected by the opioid crisis.

You may have seen attorney James Helm, aka Top Dog Law, in one of his legal advice videos on Instagram or on a billboard around Philadelphia.

He was once addicted to opioids.

“I personally struggled with opioids from 17 to 25. It was a struggle unlike anything else,” Helm said.

Only at his lowest moment was he able to stop.

“I had to get down on my knees and actually say, ‘I need help with this’ before I was finally able to recover. Now I can say I’m six years sober,” Helm said.

So when AmerisourceBergen was hit with a federal lawsuit over its alleged role in the opioid epidemic, he felt the need to speak out.

“If you were someone who was partially responsible for the opioid epidemic, you need to be held accountable for your behavior,” Helm said.

Part of the Justice Department’s announcement Thursday reads:

“We allege that AmerisourceBergen, a wholesale drug distributor, has flagrantly and repeatedly violated its obligation to notify the DEA of suspicious orders for controlled substances, which directly contributed to the opioid abuse epidemic prescription throughout the United States.”

One of the five pharmacies suspected of making those suspicious orders was in Trenton. Another was an out of Media.

In October of this year, Martin Brian, the owner and operator of the now-defunct Murray-Overhill Pharmacy, was convicted of giving drugs to people who didn’t need them in exchange for sexual favors.

In response to the lawsuit, Amerisource Bergen denies any wrongdoing.

“AmerisourceBergen performed extensive due diligence on these customers, reported every sale of every controlled substance to the DEA, and reported suspicious orders of controlled substances to the DEA. The DEA still did not feel the need to take swift action on its own.”

Meanwhile, Helm says he was able to overcome his addiction, but he personally knows many others who couldn’t.

He adds that it’s time for those victims to get some justice.

“What the government is saying is that if you’re going to make this much money off the sale of opioids, you need to have a strict process for overseeing the pharmacies that receive your supply of opioids,” Helm said.

DOJ says Amerisource Bergen could face billions of dollars in penalties.

The full statement from Amerisource Bergen is below:

The Department of Justice (DJ) complaint focuses on five pharmacies that were selected from the tens of thousands of pharmacies that use AmerisourceBergen as their wholesale distributor, ignoring the lack of action by former administrators at the Drug Enforcement Administration – DOJ. own agency.

Even in these five hand-selected examples submitted by DOJ, AmerisourceBergen verified DEA registration and State Board of Pharmacy licenses before filling any orders, performed extensive due diligence on these customers, reported every sale of any controlled substance to the DEA and report suspicions. controlled substance orders to the DEA for each of these pharmacies – hundreds of suspicious orders in total.

With the large amount of information that AmerisourceBergen shared directly with the DEA about these five pharmacies, the DEA still didn’t feel the need to take swift action on its own—in fact, AmerisourceBergen terminated relationships with four of them before the DEA received any implementation. action while two of five pharmacies maintain DEA controlled substance registration to date.

A federal judge recently ruled that AmerisourceBergen has maintained a compliance diversion control program in compliance with the law for decades. This sweeping decision addressed many of the same allegations made in this DOJ complaint, while acknowledging the DEA’s role in controlled distribution of substances through tools such as production quotas—ultimately concluding that AmerisourceBergen had complied with the law.

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