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Rochester Drug Co-Op (RDC), located in New York, announced the end of their opioid sales. This announcement comes along during a criminal trial involving two of the company’s former executives who’ve been charged with conspiring to defraud the US DEA and illegally distributing opioids.
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Laurence Doud III, former RDC CEO received the conspiracy and defrauding charges. Doud could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison at the age of 72. A compliance officer by the name of William Pietruszewski was also charged with the previous two crimes, as well as one count of willfully failing to file suspicious order reports.
From 2012 to 2016, Rochester Drug Co-Op flagged only 4 narcotics orders as suspicious. During that time and into 2017, nearly 1.5 million orders were made in total. Demand for oxycodone grew by 800% and demand for fentanyl grew by 2000%. Only 4 orders throughout this unprecedented growth struck RDC as worth reporting. This lack of effort on their part is what ultimately landed Pietruszewski with the charge of willfully failing to file suspicious order reports.
When asked about the company’s choice to cease future opioid sales, an RDC representative cited financial concerns. According to them, the legal and regulatory costs of selling these drugs outweighed their current contribution to the company’s success. They assured the media that this decision was purely business and not one made in light of the legal issues. While RDC is suspending their future opioid sales, they will continue selling their remaining inventory until that runs out.
More and more pharmaceutical companies find themselves embroiled in cases like these. Several states are out for restitution to help fix the damage done during the early opioid crisis, which was fueled by prescription opioids. While pharmaceutical company cases are more common, this is one of the first to accuse executive of defrauding and illegally distributing.
As of mid 2019, 48 states sued OxyContin manufacturers over their role in starting and growing the opioid crisis. Settlements from these cases started small, but a few states have won serious amounts of money from companies. Oklahoma took home the largest settlement from Johnson & Johnson who were ordered to pay $572 million. States use these payouts to help pay for the measures necessary to recover from the damage from the past 20 years.
The company representative refused to say what impact the litigation and opioid action plan may have on their company’s revenue. In 2019 they ranked 6th in pharmaceutical distributors with more than $1 billion in revenue.
The damage done throughout the US because of prescription opioids is too much to measure in dollars. If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid use and you need help, please reach out. It takes great courage to admit you have a problem and take the first steps towards fixing it. Treatment providers are available 24/7 to help.
Michael Muldoon earned a B.A. in Media Studies from Penn State University, but instead of shifting into an academic career in social science, he has decided to put his skills to work in the pursuit of helping those struggling with addiction. He enjoys spending his free time at the climbing gym with friends.