"These companies knowingly and deliberately used their licenses to distribute drugs in our state without controls," said Dana Nessel, Michigan's attorney general, in a statement. "This was not only negligent; it was unlawful, a public nuisance and, as a result, their actions subject these companies to liability under Michigan's Drug Dealer Liability Act."
The state alleges in its lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, that the four companies did the following:
- Distributed and sold opioids in ways that facilitated and encouraged their flow into the illegal, secondary market.
- Distributed and sold opioids without maintaining effective controls against the diversion of opioids.
- Chose not to effectively monitor suspicious orders.
- Chose not to investigate suspicious orders.
- Chose not to report suspicious orders.
- Chose not to stop or suspend shipments of suspicious orders.
- Distributed and sold opioids prescribed by "pill mills" when these companies knew or should have known the opioids were being prescribed by said "pill mills."
The four companies knowingly participated in the illegal distribution of prescription opioids in the state, so they are liable to Michigan under the Drug Dealer Liability Act for damages caused by opioids acquired from their distribution channels, the suit alleges. The damages included increased costs for healthcare, law enforcement and prosecution, drug treatment programs, and the care, housing, and rehabilitation of opioid addicts and opioid-dependent infants and children, as well as other financial losses caused by illegal drug use.
"The opioid epidemic continues to be fed by these companies precisely because the fines and suspensions imposed by the [Drug Enforcement Agency] did nothing to change their business practices," Nessel added. "McKesson, Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen, and Walgreens all paid millions of dollars in fines as a cost of doing business in an industry that generates billions of dollars in annual revenue."
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