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McKesson Agrees To Pay $150M In Pill Shipment Case

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McKesson did not own up to doing anything wrong, saying in a press release that the settlement puts to rest disputes between the company and the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency over its interpretation of regulations for suspicious controlled substance orders.

McKesson Corporation will pay a $150 million fine and stop selling certain drugs in Colorado, Ohio, Florida and MI after it avoided its own internal systems to avoid inconsistent or outsize orders of drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone that are linked to the national opioid epidemic, the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

McKesson agreed to a $13.25 million civil penalty and administrative agreement for similar violations in 2008, according to Steinfield Jividen. “The Controlled Substances Act is a tool to assist the DEA with monitoring the movement of prescription drugs and prevent the diversion of powerful drugs to unintended users who may be injured by them.”.

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"In many instances, the suspicious orders placed by West Virginia pharmacies resulted in prescription narcotics being diverted for illegal use and abuse", said Betsy Steinfeld Jividen, the acting USA attorney in northern West Virginia.

Under the settlement, San Francisco-based McKesson must on a staggered basis suspend sales of controlled substances from distribution centers in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and Florida for several years.

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McKesson Agrees To Pay $150M In Pill Shipment Case

"Pharmaceutical companies are our first line of defense in the fight against prescription opioid abuse", said Karl J. Kotowski, of the DEA's New Jersey office.

Hammergren, McKesson's chairman and CEO, said the company is "committed to tackling this multi-faceted problem in collaboration with all parties in the supply chain that share the responsibility for the distribution of opioid medications".

According to federal prosecutors, McKesson failed to implement a system to detect and report suspicious orders to its customers, which include independent and chain store pharmacies.

McKesson is the latest distributor to agree to settlements in West Virginia over painkiller shipments.

In Colorado, for example, McKesson processed more than 1.6 million orders for controlled substances from June 2008 through May 2013, but reported just 16 orders as suspicious, and all of those were connected to one instance related to a recently terminated customer, according to the government.

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