A Springboro firm is among four pharmaceutical wholesalers being sued by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
DeWine’s office alleges that Miami-Luken and three other wholesalers — which buy drugs from manufacturers and distribute them to pharmacies — should have done more to report large orders for opioid painkillers as suspicious.
As opioid overdoses continue to claim thousands of lives, local and state governments have filed hundreds of suits against drug makers and distributors accused of flooding their communities with more high power painkillers than residents could safely use. While illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl have led to most of the overdoses in the current crisis, officials are pointing to unsafe prescribing as a gateway to widespread use of these other addictive drugs.
Richard Blake, an attorney at McDonald Hopkins who represents Miami-Luken, said DeWine’s office had not tried to communicate with his client prior to filing the unexpected lawsuit.
“We were surprised by it,” Blake said.
The state’s suit alleges the companies failed their responsibilities under both federal and Ohio law to stop orders that would result in oversupply and report these suspicious orders to the U.S. DEA and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
“We believe the evidence will show that these companies ignored their duties as drug distributors to ensure that opioids were not being diverted for improper use,” DeWine said in a statement on the lawsuit. “They knew the amount of opioids allowed to flow into Ohio far exceeded what could be consumed for medically-necessary purposes, but they did nothing to stop it.”
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The lawsuit was filed Feb. 26 in Madison County, which DeWine said has a higher number of opioids distributed to it than the Ohio average. Miami-Luken will be filing a response to the lawsuit.
The state’s lawsuit also names three other distributors: McKesson Corp., based in San Francisco; Cardinal Health, based in Dublin; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., based in Conshohocken, Penn.
The state says it is seeking punitive damages as well as compensatory damages for costs incurred by Ohio for its increased spending for health care, criminal justice, social services and education.
Miami-Luken also remains under investigation by Congress over whether it played a role in the opioid overdose crisis in West Virginia.