American Consequences - September 2018

One of the worst offenders is Cardinal Health, a $16 billion pharmaceutical distributor. As of the end of February, it was charged or named in at least 343 lawsuits – up from 100 in the previous quarter. (Yes, that’s an added 243 lawsuits in just one quarter.) Cardinal Health has a history of filling orders of opioids for illegitimate business purposes – despite having sophisticated tracking systems in place to prevent it. Analysts estimate that opioids could contribute to nearly half a million deaths over the next decade. And these activities have continued for years... even after the DEA issued multiple suspension orders at several of its facilities around the country for failure to maintain control of hydrocodone. In 2008, Cardinal admitted to selling opioids with no legitimate purpose – resulting in a $34 million fine. In 2012, the company admitted to failing to maintain effective controls and failing to detect and report suspicious orders of

case with West Virginia for $20 million – that stemmed from similar failures back in 2012. Despite all the litigation, suspensions, and fines, Cardinal has not changed its practices. At least not according to Kentucky’s attorney general, who filed a lawsuit against Cardinal in February. The complaint states that Cardinal was “neither halted nor deterred from these penalties.” And that Cardinal profited while ignoring all the red flags – allowing prescription opioids to be diverted for illegal use. And it’s not just Kentucky. It’s all over the country . Lawsuits in other jurisdictions accuse Cardinal of similar activity. The growing number of lawsuits means we may eventually see a “Big Opioid” settlement similar to the “Big Tobacco” settlement of 1998 – where the four largest U.S.

tobacco companies agreed to pay $246 billion to cover the costs of smoking on public health. At a minimum, all the litigation and public outcry means stricter regulation and hefty fines are on the way.

controlled substances. As a result, Cardinal’s license to distribute drugs

from its Lakeland, Florida facility was suspended for two years. It later settled

for $44 million. In January, it settled a

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