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Criminal Probe Of Opioid Makers and Distributors Initiated By US Prosecutors

Criminal Probe Of Opioid Makers and Distributors Initiated By US Prosecutors
Multiple reports citing regulatory filings say that criminal investigations have been initiated by the United States federal prosecutors over the alleged shipping of large quantities of opiod painkiller drugs into and within the country which ultimately led to a health crisis with many deaths because of addiction to the painkillers especially among the youth. 
Regulatory filings showed that as a part of the investigations, the US Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York has sent subpoenas to five companies which include drug makers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Mallinckrodt Plc, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc, and distributor McKesson Corp.
The news of the investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and in its report the newspaper said that investigation were in its early stages with the prosecutors expected to subpoena a number of other companies as well within the next few months as a part of the investigation.
There was no comment available from the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
As part of the investigation, distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp had received a subpoena, the WSJ also said. Multiple US attorneys including the Eastern District of New York had sent it subpoenas, said the company in regulatory filings. However the nature of the probe was not disclosed by AmerisourceBergen unlike other companies.
There was a drop of between 3 per cent and 9 per cent in the shares of AmerisourceBergen, Amneal, Teva, Mallinckrodt and McKesson while there was marginal drop in the shares of J&J after the publication of the reports. Disclosure of the investigation on J&J was reported in October by Reuters.
The monitoring systems that it had in place were adequate enough to ensure that the medicines were delivered appropriately, Teva said. McKesson referred to recent regulatory filings while the other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Already the opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains are facing thousands of lawsuits by state attorneys general, local governments and class actions suits that have alleged that the addiction crisis leading to many deaths was fueled by these companies – allegations that the accused companies have denied.
Since 1997, there have reportedly been more than 400,000 deaths in the United States primarily because of opiod overdose.
In the regulatory filings by some of the companies, the subpoenas were described as simply being part of a probe on the entire industry aimed at uncovering anti-diversion policies and distribution of opioid medications and was being conducted under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
However grand jury subpoenas have been served to a number of the companies which clearly indicate that those had been served as a part of a criminal investigation.
According to the CSA, companies are bound to report all orders that they receive for controlled substances such as opioids especially when such orders are in large numbers or are ordered in unusually frequent intervals or if the orders are substantially deviant from the standard practice.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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