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Attorney General Donovan Sues Opiate Distributors Cardinal and Mckesson

March 26, 2019

Contact: Jill Abrams, Director Consumer Protection Unit, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today filed a lawsuit against two distributors of opiates, Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corporation. The lawsuit, filed in Chittenden Superior Court, alleges that Defendants committed unfair and deceptive acts in violation of the Vermont Consumer Protection Act and alleges claims of negligence and public nuisance. The State also contends that these distributors fraudulently concealed their unlawful conduct.

“Cardinal and McKesson sold out their duty to the public in exchange their bottom line,” Attorney General Donovan said. “They ignored the fact that opioid sales in Vermont were far out-pacing legitimate need. These distributors were obligated to identify and report this problem. Instead, they just kept on selling.”

The State’s lawsuit alleges that Defendants’ systems were wholly inadequate to fulfill their legal duty to monitor and control the sale of opioids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has referred to distributors as the “first major line of defense” against the movement of controlled substances from legitimate channels into the illicit market. The State’s lawsuit alleges that Defendants failed to take steps to prevent and stop the diversion of legitimate medical channels of opiates into illegal use and sales as the law requires. Instead, Cardinal and McKesson used their data to target potential customers and strategize ways to increase their market share.

Vermont ranks as the 8th-highest state in the nation for drug dependence, despite other favorable health indicators like better access to health care and insurance coverage as compared to other states. Drug-related fatalities in Vermont nearly tripled between 2010 to 2018.

A copy of the State’s complaint may be found here.