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Major pharmaceutical distributor to face criminal charges in opioid crisis

Thomas Nevesely - Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/24/19

This revelation of fraud will go a long way towards keeping prescription drugs off the streets.

The fight against the opioid crisis in America has set its sights on a major drug distribution company and its former CEO. Rochester Drug Co-operative was charged Tuesday with narcotics conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Along with the indictment of the company, Laurence Doud III, Rochester’s former CEO, was charged with narcotics conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is believed that Doud sold tens of millions of doses of oxycodone, fentanyl, and other opioids. Rochester’s own compliance department has claimed to find no legitimate need for them.

NBC News reports that in the indictment, prosecutors wrote:

“Doud and other members of senior management instructed RDC employees to contravene its policies and DEA regulations so that the Company could continue doing business with customers Doud knew were likely diverting controlled substances, and to increase Doud’s compensation.”

It was reported that at one point Doud was questioned by a fellow executive about ending a relationship with a pharmacy due to suspicious practices. The pharmacy, which was unnamed, was allegedly becoming one of the nation’s largest dispensers of the highly addictive opioid spray Subsys. Doub is said to have warned the executive, “Kill it and die.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has also opened up a lawsuit against the Rochester Drug Co-operative. The company, true to its name, is cooperating and has entered into a plea agreement with the state for $20 million settlement.

Jeff Eller, a spokesperson for Rochester Drug Co-operative, said in a statement:

“We made mistakes … and RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences. We accept responsibility for those mistakes. We can do better, we are doing better, and we will do better. “One element of the opioid epidemic is a dramatic increase in the volume of prescriptions for opioids and all narcotics,” Eller said. “From 2012 to 2017, we did not have adequate systems in place nor were our compliance team and practices rigorous enough to provide adequate controls and oversight over the increased demand for narcotic drug products from pharmacies.”
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