Pharmaceutical companies and distributors shipped 1.6 billion opioids into Missouri – enough to give each resident 260 doses of the highly addictive painkillers over a six-year period, Sen. Claire McCaskill announced.
McCaskill is investigating the extent of the opioid epidemic in her home state, and had requested opioid data from 2012 to 2017 from drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, as well as opioid makers Allergan, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mallinckrodt PLC and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. All companies agreed to cooperate with McCaskill’s request except Teva, and Allergan, after months of delay, provided only limited data.
“The opioid crisis these pills have fueled is a failure of policy and oversight by the government and a failure of basic human morality on the part of many pharmaceutical companies and distributors – a failure that has destroyed families and communities all over our state,” the senator said in a statement.
Though information from the drug companies was limited, McCaskill’s staff was able to identify several potential areas for opioid diversion and prescribing in the state by mapping county-level suspicious-order-reporting data and comparing information with other sources.
Missouri is just one state that has been hard hit by the opioid crisis. Several states, counties, and cities across the country, as well as some Indian tribes, have filed lawsuits against several opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies blaming them for escalating the benefits of the powerful painkillers while downplaying the highly addictive properties of the drugs.
About 700 cases are pending in a multidistrict litigation in the Northern District Court of Ohio.