Category Archives: Litigation

FedEx faces drug-trafficking charges

pharmacyFedEx Corp. is facing charges that it delivered prescription painkillers and other controlled substances for illegal Internet pharmacies.

The charges include 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and misbranded drugs and drug trafficking. Prosecutors claim FedEx delivered drugs to Internet pharmacies that supplied pills to customers who filled out online questionnaires without undergoing doctors’ examinations, in violation of federal and state drug laws.

According to the indictment, FedEx knew as early as 2004 that it was delivering drugs to dealers and addicts:

FedEx’s couriers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia expressed safety concerns that were circulated to FedEx Senior management, including that FedEx trucks were stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding packages of pills, that the delivery address was a parking lot, school, or vacant home where several car loads of people were waiting for the FedEx driver to arrive with their drugs, that customers were jumping on the FedEx trucks and demanding online pharmacy packages, and that FedEx drivers were threatened if they insisted on delivering packages to the addresses instead of giving the packages to customers who demanded them. In response to these concerns, FedEx adopted a procedure whereby Internet pharmacy packages from problematic shippers were held for pick up at specific stations, rather than delivered to the recipient’s address.

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Ca. counties sue Big Pharma over opioid marketing

pill money signTwo California counties have launched a lawsuit accusing five major pharmaceutical companies of obscuring the addictive effects of OxyContin, Percocet and other powerful opioid painkillers while reaping billions of dollars in profits from the drugs. The companies deceived tens of millions of doctors and patients about the “significant dangers and questionable benefits of prescription opioids” for the treatment of long-term non-cancer pain, according to a complaint filed today in California state court. The five opioid manufacturers — Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, and Actavis — concealed the dangerously addictive nature of the medicines while touting benefits that had no scientific support, in order to expand the market for the drugs and boost profits, the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint charges that the pharmaceutical companies marketed opioids as “rarely” addictive, misrepresented the evidence of their efficacy for treating chronic non-cancer pain, trivialized their serious side effects and falsely assured doctors and consumers that opioids were safer than over-the-counter drugs.

According to the suit:

These pharmaceutical companies have a long history of aggressively marketing these dangerous drugs through sophisticated campaigns. These campaigns employ industry-funded professional associations, patient advocacy groups, and physicians to deceive consumers and their doctors about the harms and purported benefits of opioids for treating chronic pain.

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Ky. to receive $32M for drug abuse treatment

money and pillsMore than $32 million recovered in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies will be used throughout Kentucky to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions. The state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, said the settlement funds will help create a new treatment center for adults, treatment scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers, and expanded services for juveniles.

Kentucky currently only has one-tenth of the substance abuse treatment beds it needs, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Conway’s suit against Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., which accused the company of failing to disclose to doctors and patients that taking Vioxx significantly raised the risk of heart attack, recently settled for $25 million. His suit against GlaxoSmithKline for failing to disclose that patients taking its diabetes drug, Avandia, were at a higher risk for a cardiovascular event, settled for $15 million.

The illegal use of prescription drugs has dropped among young people in Kentucky over the past four years, according to state officials: in 2008, 15.2% of 12th-graders surveyed said they had used prescription drugs without a doctor’s permission, but that figure dropped to 9% in 2012.

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Ky. drug dealers may face homicide charges for ODs

In Kentucky, where prescription drug and heroin addiction are rife, lawmakers plan to go after dealers with legislation that would allow homicide charges against those whose customers die of an overdose, according to this article. Senate Bill 6 would amend state statutes to make it clear that death from an overdose is a foreseeable event and allow prosecution for criminal homicide in such cases, the article says. Legislators are hoping the move will deter out-of-state dealers from coming to Kentucky to sell drugs.

Officials in other states have used similar laws to prosecute dealers. Though it is usually difficult to determine where a person obtained a drug after they die of an overdose, suspects are rarely charged with selling a drug that caused someone’s death. But in places like Massachusetts and Florida, authorities are becoming more willing to pursue such charges.

The number of heroin samples analyzed by the Kentucky State Police crime lab has increased 211% since 2010, according to this article. There were 433 samples analyzed in 2010, but that jumped to 1,349 samples last year, the article says.

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Purdue seeks to extend exclusivity on Oxy patent

The maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, is fighting in federal court to extend its exclusive rights to the painkiller, which are set to expire in April 2013. The Stamford, Conn.-based company claims generic drug makers shouldn’t be allowed to market their copycat versions of the old version of OxyContin, according to this article. Purdue’s new version of OxyContin, introduced in 2010, was designed to help discourage misuse and abuse of the medication, although addicts have found ways to get their fix from it.

Generic manufacturers facing patent infringement lawsuits by Purdue say they can make their own “tamper-proof” versions of the drug, and that Purdue is trying to protect its share of the OxyContin market, the article says. Sales of OxyContin exceeded $2.8 billion last year.

In 2007, Purdue and three of its top executives were found guilty of misrepresenting the addictive nature of OxyContin and fined $634.5 million. The company also agreed to a $20 million settlement of similar allegations with 27 state attorneys general.

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Lawyer David Michael Cantor on prescription drug addiction

In this guest post, Arizona lawyer David Michael Cantor weighs in on prescription drug addiction in his state and throughout the nation.


All over the country, prescription drug abuse is running rampant. Whether the drug of choice is OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, or any other painkiller or prescription medication, the fact is that people are abusing these drugs at an alarming rate. In a recent survey, over 7 million Americans reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 30 days. In 2006 and 2007, the Department of Health in Arizona reported a 41% increase in drug-related deaths among children and teenagers. The problem is becoming an epidemic and with more and more baby boomers getting older and having health issues, there are more pills available.

Prescription pain medication is one of the most widely abused drugs throughout the nation and in Arizona. In 2008, 10.5% of high school seniors in Arizona admitted to using a prescription pain reliever in the last 30 days. According to the DEA, 56% of teens believe prescription drugs are easier to get than illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are OxyContin, Codeine, Percodan, Percocet, and Vicodin.

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Cardinal settles with DEA over painkiller distribution

Cardinal Health has reached a deal with the Drug Enforcement Administration that will block one of its Florida facilities from distributing controlled substances for two years. The company also said it will take steps to improve anti-diversion procedures designed to prevent prescription drugs from being abused.

Earlier this year, the DEA suspended Cardinal’s license after finding that the company – which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals – sold excessive amounts of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. (The suspension related only to the company’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla. facility, which the DEA claims shipped 50 times as much oxycodone to its top four customers than it has shipped to its other Florida retail customers.)

Cardinal challenged the suspension in federal court, and both the company and the DEA filed documents that gave an inside look into how prescription painkillers have flooded the black market.

Cardinal was initially granted a temporary restraining order blocking the suspension after convincing a judge that the move would disrupt drug shipments to more than 2,500 pharmacy customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The company said it has “robust controls and performs careful due diligence,” noting that in the past four years, it has stopped shipping controlled medicines to more than 350 pharmacies it determined posed an unreasonable risk of diversion, including 160 in Florida alone.

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DEA, Cardinal Health face off over painkiller sales

Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration suspended Cardinal Health’s license to distribute controlled substances, accusing the company – which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals – of selling excessive amounts of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. (The suspension relates only to the company’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla. facility, which the DEA claims shipped 50 times as much oxycodone to its top four customers than it has shipped to its other Florida retail customers.) Cardinal has challenged the suspension in federal court, and both the company and the DEA recently filed documents that give an inside look into how prescription painkillers have flooded the black market.

The DEA alleges that Cardinal knew or should have known that the pharmacies were inappropriately filling prescriptions issued by DEA-licensed physicians for non-medical reasons.

Meanwhile, Cardinal has been granted a temporary restraining order blocking the suspension after convincing a judge that the move would disrupt drug shipments to more than 2,500 pharmacy customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The company says it has “robust controls and performs careful due diligence,” noting that in the past four years, it has stopped shipping controlled medicines to more than 350 pharmacies it determined posed an unreasonable risk of diversion, including 160 in Florida alone.

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Former Purdue execs fight court-ordered ban

Three former executives of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma are trying to convince a federal appeals court to throw out a ruling debarring them from working with any government-financed health programs. Former general counsel Howard Udell, former CEO Michael Friedman, and former chief medical officer Paul Goldenheim were tried under a statute that holds corporate officers liable for the misconduct of their company, even if there was no proof of misconduct on their part for failing to prevent, detect or correct federal drug violations. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 6 in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, according to this article.

The criminal misdemeanor charges stem from a 2007 case in which Purdue was found to misrepresent the addictive nature of OxyContin and was fined $634.5 million. The executives pled guilty, and though they didn’t face any jail time, they were excluded from working at corporations with government contracts, such as Medicare, for 12 years. The trio was held strictly liable as “responsible corporate officers” for the improper promotion of OxyContin because they had responsibility and authority to prevent the violation, but failed to do so. Now, they want the appeals court to either strike down or reduce the exclusion, arguing that they were guilty of “omissions, not acts” – in essence, they were found to be at fault due to their status, not their conduct, the article says. The government, on the other hand, claims Purdue caused huge financial losses to Medicaid programs that bought OxyContin based on the company’s false claims.

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Mass. legislature overturns Big Pharma, doctor bribery law

In Massachusetts, pharmaceutical companies can once again “wine and dine” physicians to influence their prescribing practices. According to this article from Policy and Medicine, a state law was overturned last week which required doctors to report any gifts over $50 from pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. The reasoning behind throwing out the law had to do with inhibited physician education provided by drug makers. Of course, it may also be tied to the White House’s new plan to further utilize Big Pharma in educating doctors. Conflict of interest, maybe?

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