Pharma makers, distributors face painkiller investigation

December 2, 2019

Federal subpoenas are latest in opioid actions.

Major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors are likely facing a criminal investigation by the US government over the opioid epidemic, according to news reports. Many pharma makers are already facing a multitude of lawsuits for their alleged role in fueling opioid addiction.

At least 6 drug companies have received subpoenas from federal prosecutors, indicating that a broad criminal investigation is probably underway, The Washington Postreported.

Related: FDA warns opioid repackers

The country’s 2 largest wholesale drug distributors, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, have received subpoenas from federal prosecutors, along with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical, Johnson & Johnson, and Amneal Pharmaceuticals, The Washington Post said.

Teva reported that it received a subpoena from the Justice Department for “documents relating to the manufacture, marketing and sale of opioids,” along with a grand jury subpoena from Brooklyn prosecutors. The government is looking for information on how Teva distributes opioid medications and prevents narcotics from being diverted for illegal use, The Washington Post said.

Related: Startling number of patients inappropriately prescribed fentanyl

McKesson reported that it received grand jury subpoenas in April and June “seeking documents related to the company’s anti-diversion policies and procedures and its distribution” of prescription opioids.

The opioid crisis has escalated in recent years. For example, overdoses soared 30% from July 2016 through September 2017. And a study published earlier this year said that many patients who were prescribed fentanyl should not have received the drug.

Read more: Amid opioid epidemic, FDA clears powerful painkiller