SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) – The state of Washington has filed a lawsuit against three major prescription opioid distributors alleging the companies' negligence was a significant factor in the state's opioid epidemic.
According to a Washington State Attorney General's Office March 12 press release, the state is suing McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. claiming the companies profited billions of dollars by supplying prescription opioids into the state and failed to stop or report "suspicious opioid" shipments.
Despite warnings and fines from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) about their failure to report the questionable opioid shipments, the companies allegedly continued with large shipments of drugs such as oxycodone, fentanyl and hydrocodone, according to the Attorney General's Office.
“We are woefully under-resourced when it comes to treatment," Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in statement. "The people who are responsible for this epidemic should be paying for it. We are going to hold these companies accountable and get more money into our communities for treatment.”
According to Ferguson's office, more than 250,000 suspicious opioid orders were shipped into the state from 2006 to 2014 with prescriptions and sales of opioids in the state increased more than 500 percent between 1997 and 2011.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and damages to be used to fund opioid addiction treatment and education among other efforts.