Two major drug wholesalers recently agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims they failed to report suspicious orders for opioid painkillers to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to NPR.
Drug wholesalers serve as middlemen between pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies. The largest U.S. wholesaler, McKesson Corp., agreed to pay a $150 fine in January. In December, Cardinal Health agreed to pay $44 million, on top of another $20 million the company agreed to pay the state of West Virginia, which has been among the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
Another distributor, AmerisourceBergen, agreed to pay West Virginia $16 million.
“Have the distributors gotten the message? I would hope so,” said Frank Younker, who worked at the DEA for 30 years. “The distributors are important. They’re like the quarterback. They distribute the ball. …There’s plenty of blame to go around.”