Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2017
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2017 Asbury Park Press


McKesson Corporation agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations from
federal authorities that the company failed to monitor and report
suspicious sales of oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The Washington Post reported on the settlement in December, gleaned from a
publicly disclosed Form 8-K filed by McKesson on April 30, 2015.

Tuesday was the first mention of the settlement by federal law enforcement

The settlement stemmed from an earlier case.

In 2008, McKesson agreed to pay $13.25 million after the government
alleged it failed to create and maintain a system to detect and report
suspicious orders of increasing amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills
to independent and small chain pharmacies.

Once that system was created, McKesson failed to follow through with it,
making more money in the process, the government charged.

"Given a chance to implement a more robust system for monitoring the
distribution of these products, the company instead chose to ignore its
own compliance regime in favor of a bigger bottom-line," U.S. Attorney
Paul J. Fishman said.

Karl Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge the Drug Enforcement
Administration's New Jersey office, said ignoring suspicious opioid orders
contributes to the heroin epidemic.

"Pharmaceutical companies are our first line of defense in the fight
against prescription opioid abuse," he said.

The nationwide settlement requires McKesson to suspend sales of controlled
substances from distribution centers in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and
Florida for multiple years in staggered suspensions.

In Colorado, McKesson processed more than 1.6 million orders for
controlled substances from June 2008 through May 2013, but reported just
16 orders as suspicious, all from one customer that had been recently cut
off, according to the Department of Justice.

The company said the Department of Justice first leveled the allegations
against the company in 2013 and McKesson has been making improvements
since then.

"Pharmaceutical distributors play an important role in identifying and
combating prescription drug diversion and abuse," John Hammergren,
chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said in a prepared
statement. "McKesson, as one of the nation's largest distributors, takes
our role seriously."

McKesson has drawn other lawsuits.

Last year, West Virginia filed a law suit against McKesson in for
allegedly "failing to identify, detect, report and help stop the flood of
suspicious drug orders into the state."

According to the complaint, McKesson delivered nearly 100 million doses of
hydrocodone and oxycodone to epidemic-racked state between 2007 and 2012.
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