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Drug companies investigated by Senate for fueling opioid crisis

March 28, 2017
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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According to CNBC, a Senate committee is on task to find out whether pharmaceutical manufacturers are to blame for driving opioid prescribing practices that ultimately led to today’s addiction crisis. Five companies with the top marketshares are being investigated.

Congressional leaders have requested information about marketing practices and compliance issues.

Lawsuits related to addiction and overdose deaths abound, including suits filed by families of overdose patients and by local governments. For example, a New Jersey woman died from using fentanyl, and her family now is suing Insys Therapeutics, claiming the drugmaker drove physicians to prescribe fentanyl to patients for which the drug was not appropriate. In another example, Erie County, N.Y., claims four drug makers deliberately downplayed the risks of opioid medications, which ultimately led to a public health crisis that caused the county to spend millions to address resulting addiction disorders.

And other organizations are taking their share of the blame, too, including the individual prescribers, pharmacists and the drug product distributors. In January, distributor McKesson Corp. agreed to pay a $150 million penalty to the federal government for alleged violations of drug laws that mandate it must report pharmacy orders that appear suspicious.