'Sold in parking lots for cash': Justice Department sues major drug company for hiding opioid sales
MAGA Republicans, claiming that President Joe Biden and other Democrats have promoted an “open borders” policy, often blame them for the United States’ opioid problem. That problem, they claim, is aggravated by the Biden Administration being weak on border security — a claim that is contradicted by the fact that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have, during the Biden era, been very aggressive about trying to prevent people from entering the country illegally.
Another factor missing in Republican claims that an “open borders” policy is aggravating the opioid crisis is the role that Big Pharma has played in the crisis.
On Thursday, December 29, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturer AmerisourceBergen Corp. for, according to Politico, failing to report “at least hundreds of thousands” of suspicious opioid orders to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Politico’s Kelly Garrity reports, “Under the Controlled Substances Act, pharmaceutical distributors must monitor the orders they receive for controlled substances, and are required to flag any they deem suspicious to the DEA. According to the filing, AmerisourceBergen repeatedly failed to do so since 2014, despite being made aware of significant ‘red flags’ at pharmacies across the country.”
Associate U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta, during a phone conversation with reporters on December 29, explained, “In the midst of a catastrophic opioid epidemic, AmerisourceBergen allegedly altered its internal systems in a way that reduced the number of orders that would be flagged as suspicious. And even up to the orders that AmerisourceBergen identified as suspicious, the company routinely failed to report those suspicious orders. In short, the government’s complaint alleges that for years, AmerisourceBergen prioritized profits over its legal obligations and over Americans’ wellbeing.”
Philip Sellinger, a federal prosecutor for the District of New Jersey, told reporters that AmerisourceBergen knew that drugs sent to pharmacies in West Virginia and Florida “were likely being sold in parking lots for cash.”
Garrity reports, “In New Jersey, the company knowingly sent drugs to a pharmacy that has pleaded guilty to ‘unlawfully selling controlled substances,’ as well as one where the pharmacist in charge has been indicted on charges of drug diversion, according to prosecutors. And in Colorado, AmerisourceBergen supplied a pharmacy where it had identified 11 patients as potential ‘drug addicts’ with illegitimate prescriptions; two of those patients later died of overdoses, according to the Justice Department. AmerisourceBergen contends that the suit focuses too heavily on these five pharmacies, which it alleges were ‘cherry picked” out of tens of thousands it works with.”
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