Big Pharma: Don’t Blame Us For Opioid Crisis

(USA TODAY) A top executive with a major pharmaceutical distributor apologized Tuesday for his company’s failure to stop sending painkillers to two West Virginia pharmacies but later said he did not believe his firm’s actions contributed to the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Cardinal Health’s Executive Chairman George Barrett said the distributor agrees that too many prescription pills have been shipped across the country, and he lamented that decisions made by his company to keep shipping pills to two pharmacies that have been the focus of a congressional investigation.

“Those decisions allowed the two pharmacies to continue to receive certain volumes of [opiods]  than I think they should have,” Barrett told a House subcommittee.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I wish we had moved faster and asked a different set of questions,” Barrett said. “I am deeply sorry we did not.”

“I do not believe we contributed to the opioid crisis … ”

But a few minutes later, when Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., asked executives whether they believed the actions by them or their companies contributed to the opioids crisis, Barrett deflected responsibility.

“No, sir, I do not believe we contributed to the opioid crisis,” he said.

Only one of the five executives — Miami-Luken Chairman Joseph R. Mastandrea — answered yes.

Congressional investigators found that, between 2007 and 2012, distributors sent more than 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone into West Virginia, which roughly equals 433 pills for every man, woman and child in the state, congressional investigators say.

During that time, 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two drugs.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., chided the distributors for not owning up.

“The fury inside of me right now is bubbling over,” he said. “And for several of you to say you had no role whatsoever in this, I find particularly offensive, when we’ve had over 900 people a year dying in West Virginia because of lack of attention” on the part of the distributors. See the full story at USA TODAY. 

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