A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear sues another opioid manufacturer, estimates he now has in court 85% of Kentucky’s suppliers

Attorney General Andy Beshear filed suit March 8 against another national opioid distributor, alleging unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices in the state and not reporting “suspiciously large volumes of these drugs to state and federal authorities,” as Beshear’s office put it in a news release.

With the suit against AmerisourceBergen, Beshear how now sued distributors “responsible for supplying 85 percent of opioids in Kentucky,” the release said, presuming their national market shares are mirrored in Kentucky. The Pennsylvania company “is presumed to supply nearly 32 percent.”

Andy Beshear

Beshear has also sued Ohio-based Cardinal Health and San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., which supply 20.7 percent and 32.7 of pharmaceuticals nationally, the release says.

“We must stop these large supplies of opioids fueling addiction in so many of our communities,” Beshear said in the release. “One way to do that is to continue to drag these billion-dollar opioid distributors into Kentucky court to seek damages for their irresponsible actions.”

AmerisourceBergen and other opioid distributors face many such lawsuits. It recently settled with West Virginia’s attorney general for $16 million.

Beshear’s release contrasted AmerisourceBergen’s recent gains in revenue and profits with examples of heavy opioid prescriptions in 2010-16 in Floyd County, where the lawsuit was filed, and two other Eastern Kentucky counties, Bell and Clay.

He said Floyd County pharmacies filled opioid prescriptions with more than 56 million doses in the seven-year period, and if AmerisourceBergen had supplied its national market share, it would have supplied 17.8 million doses. He said that would be 461 doses for every person in the county or almost 66 per year.

Bell County’s seven-year total was just over 30 million doses, with AmerisourceBergen’s estimated share 340 for every person in the county. In Clay County, the total was 25.4 million doses, and the company’s estimated seven-year share was 381 doses per person.

“From 2012 through 2016, Bell County had 81 overdose deaths, Clay County had 28 and Floyd had 89,” the release reported.

From Kentucky Health News

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