The Latest: AP: Opioid supply boomed as crisis worsened

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WASHINGTON – The Latest on court filings and data on the opioid crisis (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

An Associated Press analysis of prescription opioid data shows enough drugs were shipped in 2012 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. to have nearly a 20-day supply even as a national overdose and addiction crisis deepened.

The AP crunched federal Drug Enforcement Administration numbers made public this month on the distribution of opioids from 2006 through 2012.

The data is at the heart of a series of lawsuits filed by governments trying to hold the drug industry responsible for the opioid crisis. Drugmakers and distributors deny the charges.

By accounting the potency of drugs, the AP found that the total amount of opioids distributed per year over that period increased by 55%.

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12:30 p.m.

A drug distribution company executive who said in a legal proceeding that the company does not have an obligation to the public in shipping prescription opioids meant that only in a legal context, her company says.

Cardinal Health spokeswoman Brandi Martin says that news reports about associate general counsel Jennifer Norris’s comments during a deposition taken earlier this year did not contain the proper context.

Norris said under questioning that the company did not have an obligation to the public but did have “an obligation to perform its duties in accordance with the law, the statute, regulation and guidance.”

Martin says the company wants to help solve the nation’s opioid crisis and will defend itself against lawsuits that allege wrongdoing in the way it distributed the drugs.

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10:50 a.m.

An executive at one of the nation’s largest drug distribution companies said in a legal proceeding that the business does not have an obligation to the public when it comes to shipping prescription opioid painkillers.

That’s one of the exchanges contained in thousands of pages of court documents made public this week in lawsuits between two county governments in Ohio and a group of drugmakers and distributors over the toll exacted by opioids, which have been blamed for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. Data shows shipments of the drugs increased even as overdoses mounted.

In a deposition this year, Cardinal Health associate general counsel Jennifer Norris said the company has no obligation to the public but has “an obligation to perform its duties in accordance with the law, the statute, regulation and guidance.”

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