SC Attorney General files lawsuit against three opioid distributors

The three companies: McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — South Carolina is stepping up its efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

Attorney General Alan Wilson (R-South Carolina) announced he is filing a lawsuit against three distributors for their role in bringing billions of pills into the Palmetto State.

The three companies are McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation.

Wilson said he filed the lawsuit after his team uncovered overwhelming data and information that led to these companies sending billions of opioid pills to the state.

With more people getting addicted to and dying as a result of overusing opioids, Wilson and his team took action.

“Opioid-related deaths went up 9 percent from 2017 to 2018, and some of that increase is due to the availability of highly potent fentanyl coming into our state, but the deaths we saw last year for prescription drugs were double those of fentanyl,” said Sara Goldsby, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS). 

This is the “second phase” of Wilson’s strategy to address the epidemic. Two years ago, Wilson filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Purdue. 

He says between 2006 and 2014, the three companies sent 2.2 billion opioid pills to South Carolina.

“They could have stopped the flooding of opioid pills into our state when they saw the suspicious reports, and they did not do that, so that is why we are suing them,” Wilson said.

However, some pharmaceutical companies are paving their own path towards tackling the crisis.

Nephron Pharmaceuticals recently announced they will be making new drugs, like ketamine, that eliminate the need for opioids.

“What we’ve learned is that the ketamine in lower doses is a very good treatment not only for pain, but it has a side effect of making you say, ‘I feel great about myself,” said Lou Kennedy, the President and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

Even with all these potential solutions, Wilson says it will take time to bring peace to those affected by the crisis.

“It took us decades to get here, we’re not going to get out of this problem in a year or two. It’s going to be a long process,” Wilson said.

Wilson says he expects the lawsuit against Purdue to go to court in March 2020.

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