For some time the focus of the opioid crisis has been on the doctors who run pill mills, the pharmacies who dispense opioid pills by the thousands, and the Sacklers, the family that controls and profits from Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. Now the attorneys general in New York, Vermont, and Washington State are going after the distributors of the drug—companies that act as middlemen, trucking medication from huge warehouses to hospitals, clinics, and drugstores.
The attorneys general allege that distributors such as Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), Cardinal Health, McKesson and Amerisource Bergen warned pharmacies at risk of being reported to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and helped others to increase and circumvent limits on how many opioids they were allowed to buy. For example, three-fourths of prescriptions at one Queens pharmacy supplied by Amerisource were written by doctors who were later indicted or convicted.
This week prosecutors charged former executives of Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC) for shipping tens of millions of oxycodone pills and fentanyl products to pharmacies they knew were distributing drugs illegally. That was TENS OF MILLIONS of oxycodone pills! Sales soared just like they did in the case of Purdue Pharma and executives got rich. When Geoffrey S. Berman, the US Attorney in Manhattan, announced the charges, he was asked, “Why did they do it?” Berman responded with one word: “Greed.”
The chief executive of RDC, Laurence Doud III, is accused of driving up the sales of oxycodone eight fold over 4 years from 4.7 million pills in 2010 to 42.2 million pills in 2018. While he and his company were getting richer, over 200,000 people died of overdoses. The company, the sixth largest distributor of pills admitted in court papers that it intentionally violated federal narcotic laws by shipping highly addictive opioids to pharmacies knowing they were being sold and used illicitly.
So what I don’t understand is why RDC was only given a fine and is still allowed to transport drugs to troubled pharmacies. Don’t people’s lives have more value than corporate profits??