Wednesday, May 09, 2018

During grilling by House panel, some opioid distributors express regret for feeding West Virginia's drug habit

Past and present executives for five top pharmaceutical distributors testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee yesterday in a probe of their role in providing pills to West Virginia, the state with the highest rate of opioid-overdose deaths. "Lawmakers drilled the executives on key questions, such as whether they fell short of complying with federal regulations to report suspicious orders, whether their products have contributed to the opioid abuse crisis and how they’re ensuring pill dumping doesn’t happen again," Paige Cunningham reports for The Washington Post.

Some executives expressed regret: Miami-Luken Chairman Joseph Mastandrea said he thinks his company contributed to the opioid crisis. And Cardinal Health executive chairman George Barrett said he wished the company had moved more quickly to stop sending millions of opioid pills to West Virginia, and believes that Cardinal would "reach different conclusions" about the unusually large orders of opioids ordered for a handful of pharmacies. "But Barrett, along with executives from AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and H.D. Smith said they don’t think their companies contributed to the opioid crisis," Cunngingham reports.

Those executives who denied culpability argued that their companies only fulfill orders from pharmacies, but do not make or prescribe the drugs. Several said they've made changes in their distribution systems to stop suspicious orders from being fulfilled. Several companues face lawsuits from states blaming them for the epidemic.

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