Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jan 2017
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2017 The Columbus Dispatch


LEXINGTON, Ky. -- One of the nation's largest pharmaceutical distributors
allegedly failed to report suspicious orders in Kentucky and elsewhere,
contributing to a spike in abuse of painkillers called opioids, federal
authorities have charged.

McKesson Corp. agreed to pay a $150 million penalty for alleged violations
of federal drug law, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday. The
case was a civil, not criminal, matter.

The settlement resolves an investigation of a McKesson distribution center
in Washington Court House, Ohio, by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
office in London and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District
of Kentucky, based in Lexington, according to a news release.

The deal also resolves investigations by 11 other U.S. Attorney's Offices.

"McKesson's failure to report suspicious orders fueled the opioid epidemic
in Eastern Kentucky," said Carlton S. Shier, IV, acting U.S. Attorney for
the Eastern District of Kentucky. " Opioid abuse has devastated our
community, and the investigation of drug distributors, like McKesson, is
one aspect of the United States' multifaceted fight against this

Federal authorities said the drug orders at issue were suspicious because
they were unusual in frequency, size or other patterns.

McKesson agreed in 2008 to pay $13.25 million for similar violations, but
the federal investigation showed that the company didn't fully implement
or follow the compliance program it developed after that settlement.

McKesson supplied drugs to independent pharmacies and small chains. From
2008 to 2013, the company shipped an increasing amount of oxycodone and
hydrocodone pills, which are frequently misused, according to the federal
news release.

The nationwide settlement announced Wednesday requires McKesson to suspend
sales of controlled substances from its distribution center in Washington
Courthouse, Ohio, and centers in Colorado, Michigan and Florida.

The deal also includes tougher compliance requirements on the company.
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