Opioid Settlement

Since 1999, the number of prescription painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone—also known as opioids—sold in America has almost quadrupled. Since 2000, more than 180,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.

In response to this growing epidemic, many victims have filed lawsuits against physicians and drug manufacturers for failing to state the addictiveness of the pills. Opioid lawsuits claim that doctors, drug companies, and “pill mills” exploited patients, understated the addictive nature of the drugs, and cost individuals and states millions of dollars in medical and law enforcement expenses.

If you or a loved one became addicted to prescription painkillers, please contact us today for a free legal consultation. You may be eligible to take legal action against the companies or doctors that allegedly contributed to your addiction.

Mallinckrodt (2017) – $35 million

In April 2017, Mallinckrodt Plc—the manufacturer of oxycodone, one of America’s most widely subscribed opioids—agreed to pay $35 million to the U.S. government to settle a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) probe into its distribution of the drug.

The DEA had been investigating Mallinckrodt since at least 2011, exploring whether or not the company had failed to report suspicious orders of its drugs and to maintain the requisite records and security measures. These failures would constitute violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

By settling the probe, Mallinckrodt did not have to admit to any wrongdoing. The Washington Post made the company the subject of a long essay titled, “The government’s struggle to hold opioid manufacturers accountable.”

Costco (2017) – $11.75 million

In January 2017, Costco agreed to pay $11.75 million to the U.S. government to settle Justice Department charges that the company unlawfully filled prescriptions and failed to maintain accurate records with regard to prescription drugs. Unlike the DEA’s investigation into Mallinckrodt, this investigation was complete and found that Costco had filled prescriptions for doctors who were unregistered and/or unqualified.

Unlike Mallinckrodt, Costco did admit to Controlled Substances Act violations, which it says occurred between 2011 and 2013. In 2012, Costco revamped its pharmacy management system to enhance compliance.

Annette Hayes, U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, said, “A company such as Costco that distributes a significant volume of controlled substances has a responsibility to ensure it complies with regulations that help prevent opioids and other dangerous drugs from being misused or otherwise added to the illegal marketplace.”

McKesson (2017) – $150 million

In January 2017, America’s largest drug distributor—McKesson Corp.—agreed to pay $150 million to the U.S. government to settle Justice Department charges that it failed to detect and report suspicious opioid orders. This was the largest such fine in history.

The Washington Post reports:

In the current case, the government accused McKesson—the fifth-largest company in the United States—of failing to design and use an effective system to detect “suspicious orders” from pharmacies for powerful painkillers such as oxycodone, as required by the Controlled Substances Act. In Colorado, for example, McKesson filled more than 1.6 million orders for controlled substances from June 2008 through May 2013, but it reported just 16 of them from a single customer as suspicious, the Justice Department said.

As part of the agreement, McKesson also suspended drug sales at four of its distribution centers.

Cardinal Health (2017) – $44 million

In January 2017, Cardinal Health agreed to pay $44 million to three states—Florida, Maryland, and New York—to settle charges that it failed to report and rein in suspicious opioid orders in these states.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cardinal admitted to not complying with DEA reporting requirements from 2009 to 2012 in Florida and Maryland. Its subsidiary admitted to the same violation in New York City.

This settlement also laid to rest charges that Cardinal had failed to maintain proper records for opioid prescriptions in Washington state, though the company acknowledged no wrongdoing in this regard.

Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen (2016) – $36 million

In December 2016, prescription drug distributors Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen agreed to pay $20 million (Cardinal) and $16 million (Amerisource) to the state of West Virginia to settle a lawsuit over their alleged contributions to West Virginia’s opioid crisis.

Drug wholesalers flooded the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills over a six-year period, leading to 1,728 fatal overdoses

The companies denied wrongdoing, with AmerisourceBergen spokesperson Lauren Moyer saying, “We are committed to the safe and appropriate delivery of controlled substances. With this matter settled, we look forward to focusing our full attention on continuing to work diligently with regulatory agencies and our partners throughout the supply chain to combat diversion and support appropriate access to medications.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that drug wholesalers flooded the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills over a six-year period, leading to 1,728 fatal overdoses. Cardinal Health shipped the most opioids to West Virginia, while AmerisourceBergen shipped the third-most. (McKesson Corp. sent the second-most.)

Purdue Pharma (2015) – $24 million

In December 2015, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay $24 million to the state of Kentucky to settle charges that it understated the addictiveness of OxyContin. State Attorney General Jack Conway said that the money would go to addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs.

In a news release announcing the settlement, Mr. Conway said, “Purdue Pharma created havoc in Kentucky, and I am glad it will be held accountable. Purdue lit a fire of addiction with OxyContin that spread across this state, and Kentucky is still reeling from its effects.”

Kentucky suffered nearly 1,100 opioid overdose deaths in 2014. Under the terms of the settlement, Purdue admitted no wrongdoing or liability.

Cardinal Health (2008) – $34 million 

In October 2008, Cardinal Health agreed to pay $34 million to seven U.S. attorney’s offices (in FL, TX, WA, NJ, GA, CA, and CO) to resolve charges that it failed to report suspicious orders of hydrocodone. These orders were placed online; many of the drugs were then sold and used illegally.

Cardinal admitted no wrongdoing. In a statement, Cardinal CEO R. Kerry Clark said, “We settled this matter so that we could quickly resume the distribution of these vital medicines to our valued customers, and we will continue to work with the DEA and other supply-chain partners to take all necessary steps to keep these powerful drugs out of the wrong hands.”

Cardinal would go on to settle several similar lawsuits over the next ten years.

McKesson (2008) – $13.25 million

In May 2008, McKesson Corp. agreed to pay $13.25 million to state attorney offices in Florida, Maryland, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and California to settle civil charges that three McKesson facilities failed to report suspicious orders of hydrocodone and alprazolam, particularly those placed online and given to customers without prescriptions.

“The McKesson Corporation fueled the explosive prescription drug abuse problem we have in this country.”

The DEA’s Acting Administrator at the time, Michele M. Leonhart, said, “By failing to report suspicious orders for controlled substances that it received from rogue Internet pharmacies, the McKesson Corporation fueled the explosive prescription drug abuse problem we have in this country.”

McKesson admitted no wrongdoing.

Purdue Pharma (2007) – $620+ million

In May 2007, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay at least $600 million in fines after pleading guilty to understating the addictiveness of OxyContin. Purdue had marketed OxyContin as a “reduced-risk” narcotic from its FDA approval in 1995 until 2001 (when it dropped that label).

From 1995 to 2001, OxyContin generated $2.8 billion in revenue for Purdue—roughly four times the total of the fines.

John Brownlee, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, called the consequences of Purdue’s crimes “staggering.”

Purdue agreed to pay $470 million to state and federal agencies, and at least $130 million to plaintiffs and attorneys who had filed civil lawsuits against the company. (Purdue had previously defeated hundreds such lawsuits.)

In a separate settlement that same week, Purdue agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and Washington, D.C. to resolve charges that it encouraged over-prescriptions of OxyContin.

From 1995 to 2001, OxyContin generated $2.8 billion in revenue for Purdue—roughly four times the total of the fines.