Attorney General files suit against pharmaceutical distributor for enabling heavy influx of opioids in Kentucky

01/22/2018 01:15 PM

FRANKFORT – Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a law suit on Monday in Franklin Circuit Court against a national opioid distributor for allegedly contributing to the state’s drug crisis by flooding Kentucky with massive amounts of opioids, including generic oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The suit accuses San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation of unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices for excessively distributing opioids, especially in rural Eastern Kentucky, and for failing to report the large volume of these drugs to state and federal authorities as they are required to do under state law.

“McKesson had a duty to report, under federal and state law, when it ships large or suspicious amounts of opioids to a state or a region,” Beshear said. “They knew their shipments to Kentucky were excessive, even grossly excessive, but they simply sent them anyway, and did not notify the authorities.”

One county which was hit particularly hard between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2016, was Floyd County.

“McKesson distributed 11,871,017 doses of oxycodone and generic hydrocodone in Floyd County alone,” Beshear said. “Floyd counties population is 38,638 people. That means McKesson distributed 477 opioids to every single man, woman and child, just in Floyd County.”

Behear stated that the opioid epidemic has resulted in a second epidemic crisis in the commonwealth.

“That second epidemic is an HIV and hepatitis C outbreak,” Beshear said. “Last year, the CDC issued a list of 220 counties across this nation that are most at-risk for an HIV outbreak, 54 Kentucky counties were on that list. Almost 20 percent of the CDC’s list of places where they believe will see an HIV outbreak right here in Kentucky.”

Beshear hopes that any settlement funds recovered will be used to combat the opioid crisis.

“Every single dollar of this blood money, because it is blood money, that helped fuel this epidemic needs to be spent on addressing the epidemic,” Beshear said.

The McKesson lawsuit is the second such legal action that Beshear has taken.

In November, 2017, he filed suit against Endo Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions for violating state law and directly contributing to state opioid related deaths and overdoses from its drug Opana.

Beshear believes that because of McKesson’s huge distribution network, winning a judgment against such a company could have a big impact and keep other drug manufacturers from possibly employing the same practices.

“With McKesson’s market share, if we can changes those practices moving forward and also to get them to use part of these billions of dollars that they have made on products that have devastated our communities, to spend millions to help us climb out of that devastation, then moving forward, we can change things,” Beshear said.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate will hear the case.


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