Drug company releases statement after being named in Knox Co. suit
A company named named in a lawsuit filed the State Attorney General's Office for allegations tied to Tennessee's opioid epidemic has released a statement in response to the suit.
The suit targets AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation over allegations that they are generating and prolonging the ongoing opioid epidemic in Tennessee.
The company told WVLT News on October 8, "We are committed to collaborating with all stakeholders, including in Tennessee, on ways to combat opioid abuse."
The lawsuit filed in Knox County by Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III on October 3 alleges a disproportionate amount of opioid pills were sold to the Food City located in Bearden, totaling more than 8.5 million immediate-release oxycodone 30 mg pills.
The lawsuit accuses Amerisource of shipping hundreds
of millions of prescription opioids to Tennessee pharmacies for years, even when the lawsuit claims the company knew the drugs were being abused and sold on the street. "The State's Complaint alleges that Amerisource knowingly participated in the diversion of opioids in Tennessee by continuing to supply pharmacy customers with opioids even after it knew--often from firsthand accounts--that diversion was occurring from or in those pharmacies," the complaint's memorandum said.
According to the state, on November 2, 2010, Amerisource shipped 168,000 oxycodone immediate-release 30 mg pills to Food City in Bearden, an amount almost equal to Knoxville’s population on that one day.
In the memorandum, the State listed 11 complaints against Amerisource saying that the company:
The full complaint filed by the State is under a temporary seal, meaning it cannot be viewed by the public; however, records show the Tennessee investigators believe the full complaint should be public.
It "should be made public because the information contained in it is damning, and there is no compelling reason why any of the information contained in it should be permanently withheld from the public," the State said.
The memorandum said the complaint "seeks a permanent injunction, civil penalties of $1,000 each for each TCPA violation, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, restitution a nuisance abatement order, equitable costs of abating the nuisance on behalf of the State...suspension or revocation of Amerisource's registration as an authorized wholesaler and distributor of controlled substances in Tennessee, and costs that the state has incurred."
The release from the State said, “Our office has conducted an extensive investigation into AmerisourceBergen’s unlawful conduct,” said General Slatery. “We believe the company actively subverted and exploited its unique position in the opioid supply chain and its market power to maximize profits. The numbers don’t lie. Amerisource made billions. On the other hand, Tennessee has to deal with the consequences of a public health crisis whose severity and destruction I find really hard to describe.”
Amerisource released a full statement to WVLT News on October 8:
Amerisource is headquartered in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania and is one of the largest drug distributors with reported revenues of $167.9 billion in 2018.
, Amerisource says it's committed to fighting the opioid epidemic by, "Maintaining an order monitoring program with sophisticated technology that tests every controlled substance order against established governing criteria. Orders exceeding those criteria are redirected to experienced diversion control personnel for further analysis and possible cancellation."
The company said it also fights the epidemic by, "Providing daily reports to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration of all opioid-based medication orders, including the quantity, type and recipient of each shipped order."