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U.S. sues AmerisourceBergen for failing to report suspicious opioid orders


Used blister packets that contained medicines, tablets and pills are seen, in this picture illustration taken June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Boyce/Illustration

The U.S. government on Thursday filed a civil lawsuit accusing AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC.N) of repeatedly failing to report suspicious orders of opioids and other controlled substances.

In a complaint filed in Philadelphia federal court, the Department of Justice said the drug distributor and two units violated their legal obligation to resolve suspicious activity in customer orders, or alert the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to suspicious customer behavior.

“Defendants have for years flouted their legal obligations and prioritized profits over the well-being of Americans,” the complaint said. “The United States brings this suit to hold defendants accountable for their egregious failure to report suspicious orders and their role in contributing to the opioid epidemic.”

AmerisourceBergen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Opioid abuse has long been viewed as a nationwide epidemic, with more than 500,000 people dying from overdoses nationwide in the past two decades, U.S. government data show.

The complaint said AmerisourceBergen repeatedly refused or negligently failed to flag suspicious orders by pharmacy customers when it had reason to know that opioids were being diverted to illegal channels.

It also said AmerisourceBergen intentionally altered how one of its units monitored orders, dramatically reducing the number of controlled-substance orders that underwent internal review.

The complaint seeks unspecified damages.