Morris & Dickson Company, LLC, will pay the United States $22 million in civil penalties to settle charges that it violated controlled substance laws by “failing to report suspicious orders of hydrocodone and oxycodone.”
The settlement agreement is the latest in legal and policy actions to combat the opioid epidemic.
U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph said in a prepared statement, “The fight against opioid abuse in among our nation’s most pressing law enforcement and public health initiatives. Opioids are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States—killing approximately 130 Americans every day.”
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As part of the agreement, Morris & Dickson agreed to invest millions in upgrades to its compliance program. The settlement followed a DEA Office of Diversion Control investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. DEA diversion agents have identified more than 12,000 “allegedly suspicious retail pharmacy orders.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley adds, “The settlement with Morris & Dickson demonstrates the resolve by DEA to use all available tools to address this crisis at every level and reduce the availability of highly addictive, dangerous drugs.”
Morris & Dickson is the largest privately-owned wholesale pharmaceutical distributor in the United States with revenues estimated at $4 billion in 2018.
In a prepared statement, Morris & Dickson says, “We reached this settlement so that we can focus on continuing to dependably deliver life-saving medications to hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare facilities. Despite working in a highly regulated industry for 178 years, our company has never before received a significant fine, citation, or penalty.” The company adds, “We share the goal of preventing diversion of controlled substances with the DEA and stand ready to work with it to meet these shared goals.”