Missouri expands legal battle against opioid industry

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Tuesday he was demanding documents from three drug distributors that he says may have been complicit in worsening the state’s opioid problems.

Hawley, a Republican, said evidence gathered through civil investigative demands would likely show Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., and AmerisourceBergen Corp. violated state and federal laws which require reporting of suspicious orders.

“The sheer volume of opioids that they have delivered to multiple locations is inherently suspicious,” Hawley said. “The evidence suggests that these companies chose to look the other way, oversupply pharmacies and other outlets — and make millions of dollars in profits.”

In 2016, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services, 908 deaths in Missouri occurred due to opioid overdose, which includes heroin.

Tuesday’s announcement marks an expansion of his office’s investigation into the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing of opioid painkillers, which are effective at treating pain but carry addictive risks.

In June, Hawley sued three large drug manufacturers, accusing Purdue Pharma, Endo Health and Janssen Pharmaceuticals of improperly concealing the addictive natures of their drugs.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Public Radio


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