DOJ sues Big Pharma's AmerisourceBergen for alleged role in fueling opioid epidemic

The agency estimates the drug distributor may wind up paying billions in civil penalties.

Published: December 29, 2022 3:03pm

Updated: December 29, 2022 4:45pm

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it had filed a suit against AmerisourceBergen and its subsidiaries over alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

The suit alleges that the pharmaceutical distributor helped to fuel the opioid crisis by not reporting suspicious shipments to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

"The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable those who fueled the opioid crisis by flouting the law," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a press release. "Companies distributing opioids are required to report suspicious orders to federal law enforcement. Our complaint alleges that AmerisourceBergen — which sold billions of units of prescription opioids over the past decade — repeatedly failed to comply with that requirement."

The DOJ alleges that AmerisourceBergen, from 2014 to the present, failed to report hundreds of thousands of questionable orders to the DEA. The suit further contends that the company was aware such shipments were contributing to an opioid epidemic, but failed to act in any meaningful way.

If convicted, AmerisourceBergen may face civil penalties of $10,000 for every violation before November 2015, up to $16,864 for every violation between then and October 2018, and up to $109,374 for every violation after that. The agency estimates the drug distributor may wind up paying billions in civil penalties.

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