Tennessee Sues Painkiller Suppliers

The attorney general for Tennessee has announced an incoming lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen, which alleges that the company has been irresponsibly distributing its pharmaceutics. The lawsuit comes in light of a mushrooming opioid crisis spreading across the States, which didn’t prevent the wholesale distributor from dispensing painkillers in large quantities.

The state is asking for damages, but it still hasn’t specified a definite number. The suit will also attempt to bar AmerisourceBergen from dispatching prescription drugs within Tennessee.

This company is but one of several currently dealing with lawsuits. The worrying increase of opioid abuse has led to many states pursuing litigious means of reprimanding various pharmaceutical businesses. The one in question, AmerisourceBergen, has been delivering drugs like Opana and Oxycontin to Tennessee despite rising overdose numbers in the state. Increases of street sellers over the years have also failed to deter the company from conducting its affairs.

Attorney General’s Accusations

opioid abuse

Attorney General Herbert Slatery III publically lamented the concerning trend of opioid abuse in Tennessee. He found the scale of harm the crisis has caused difficult to place into words. Meanwhile, he blasted the aforementioned pharmaceutical distributor for profiting on the back of the pandemic.

Between 2006 and 2012, AmerisourceBergen approved the shipping of an excess of 8.55 million oxycodone pills to Food City, a Bearden pharmacy which counts among the busiest in the U.S. Even worse, the distributor dispatched upward of 168,000 pills to the same pharmacy. That number almost equaled Knockville’s entire population at that time.

Slatery accused AmerisourceBergen of leveraging its considerable market influence to drive profits. He condemned them of perpetually ignoring continuous Drug Enforcement Administration investigations, disproportionate purchases, supplying medically questionable drugs, and reports of patients selling the drugs they supposedly bought for themselves.

The First Lawsuit Against a Supplier

This is Slatery’s third lawsuit of its kind in Knox County. Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma also underwent such a trial in 2018. That company faced charges of underplaying the addictive nature of their product while marketing it to Knox County residents. They labeled their drug as being “hope in a bottle.” Endo Pharmaceuticals was the second pharmaceutics company sued, also on account of glossing over their drug’s addictiveness.

However, the current lawsuit stands out for being the only one directed at a supplier, rather than a manufacturer. A Virginia and Tennessee hospital coalition attempted a similar legal action last year. But since the Tennessee Court of Appeals permitted the suing of pharmaceutical providers for irresponsible market flooding, the current complaint should carry more weight.

This lawsuit bore a temporary seal. Slatery stated that the reason behind this was that AmerisourceBergen had claimed that the suit held proprietary information. Should the company not pursue further withholding of the document, the seal will expire in nine days. Slatery highlighted his intent to make the document publicly available to display this company’s wrongdoings.

Soon after the drugs’ release into the market, addicts discovered that crushing the pills and injecting them provided an immediate high. That would also often result in overdosing, turning the drugs, originally designed to aid the injured and dying, into a nation-wide health hazard. Their casualty numbers now outnumber those of car crashes in Tennessee.

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