A 27-page report released by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, says the top three pharmaceutical companies shipped 1.6 billion in addictive prescription drugs to Missouri from 2012 to 2017. According to the report, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health had 2017 revenues of more than $125 billion – making up 90% of the drug distribution revenue nationwide.
“It’s staggering. Over six years we averaged 260 pills for every man, woman, and child in Missouri,” McCaskill says. “The opioid crisis these pills have fueled is a failure of policy and oversight by the government and a failure of basic human morality on the part of many pharmaceutical companies and distributors—a failure that has destroyed families and communities all over our state.”
McCaskill’s analysis says the companies have also consistently failed over the past ten years to report suspicious opioid orders. In some cases, their lack of required reporting has led to the surrender of their licenses for distribution centers and paying millions in fines.
McCaskill says her data also suggests significant opioid prescribing and black-market diversion activity has been happening in the Missouri counties to the south and southwest of St. Louis and in the counties along the Missouri-Arkansas border – particularly Barry, Howell, and St. Francois counties.
The report details more than 3,400 Missourians have died between 2012 and 2016 due to opioid-involved overdoses, and 664 Missourians have died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. From July 2016 through September 2017, Missouri also experienced a 21% jump in the rate of individuals using emergency services due to opioid overdoses. The number of quarterly Missouri citizens non-heroin opioid deaths almost doubled from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2017.
The analysis also provides a number of instances involving the illegal dispensing practices at Missouri pharmacies. Some cases have led to disciplinary action against pharmacies, pharmacy workers, and a doctor.
McCaskill says the findings of the report show a stronger need for drug enforcement by the government.
To view the full report, click here.
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