The City of Kokomo announced today it is taking a necessary step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opiates into its community, by filing a public nuisance lawsuit against the wholesale drug distributors that are responsible for the opioid epidemic.
Kokomo is joining other cities from around Indiana and the country in filing suit against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation. These three companies, with combined annual revenues of $400 billion and profits in the billions of dollars, together control more than 80 percent of the market for prescription opioids.
Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, in 1970 Congress designed a system to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country. It let only a select few wholesalers gain the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to halt suspicious orders and control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate uses.
The wholesale drug distributors failed in their legal obligation to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious orders, even as the number of pills flowing into our country continued to rise.
“It is important that we hold these companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “These drugs are ravaging families and destroying lives. We are taking this legal action because they failed their obligations to patients and continue to fail to stem the tide of opioid addiction.”
Sadly, it is the residents of the City of Kokomo who continue to bear the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement have continued to rise. According to a federal study, roughly 1 in 7 people who received a refill or had a second opioid prescription authorized were still on opioids one year later.
Kokomo is working with expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include: Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; McHugh Fuller Law Group; and Taft Stettinius & Hollister, LLP.