McKesson Corporation has agreed to pay a record $150 million civil penalty for allegedly failing to property monitor the sale of drugs contributing to the national opioid epidemic.
United States Attorney Deborah Gilg announced the settlement along with Special Agent in Charge James Shroba of the St. Louis Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“This case represents a significant effort to attack the opioid crisis and prescription abuse crisis that affects not only our state but nationwide,” Gilg said in a written statement released by her office. “This case represents a collaborative multi-district approach in enforcing our laws not only against drug abusers but any entity that enables the problem.”
Under the terms of the settlement, McKesson will suspend sales of controlled substances from distribution centers in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida for multiple years, one of the most severe sanctions ever agreed to by a DEA registered distributor.
The investigation involved the McKesson Distribution Center in La Vista, which relocated to Iowa in October 2016.
Federal prosecutors alleged McKesson failed to properly monitor drug orders distributed to its independent and small chain pharmacy customers.
In 2008, McKesson agreed to a $13.25 million civil penalty and administrative agreement for similar violations. Between 2008 until 2013, McKesson supplied various pharmacies an increasing amount of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, products frequently misused, feeding the current opioid epidemic.
Prosecutors say though sales data indicated several of McKesson’s retail pharmacy customers were top purchasers of oxycodone and/or hydrocodone, McKesson did not submit any suspicious order reports to DEA until the arrival of new management.
McKesson has agreed to enhanced compliance the next five years. McKesson has agreed to rigorous staff training, periodic auditing, and financial penalties if it falls short of compliance terms. An independent monitor will assess compliance.