Wholesale drug distributor Morris and Dickson Co. LLC will pay $22 million in penalties to the U.S. government to settle claims that it allegedly failed to report thousands of suspicious orders of opioid medications hydrocodone and oxycodone.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a May 24 press release that the settlement came following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, Office of Diversion Control into the Shreveport, La.-based company's failure to report alleged suspicious retail pharmacy orders of the opioids.
Since January 2014, DEA agents had identified more than 12,000 allegedly suspicious retail pharmacy orders. The Justice Department said that during this time, Morris & Dickson allegedly distributed controlled substances to about 800 retail pharmacies across 17 states, distributing over 600 million dosage units.
Under the settlement, privately held Morris & Dickson also agreed to make significant upgrades to its compliance program by investing millions of dollars to hire additional staff and implement new standards to ensure compliance with federal regulations that would require the company to report suspicious orders of controlled substances.
U.S. Attorney David Joseph said, "Opioids are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. — killing approximately 130 Americans every day. About 40% of these deaths involve prescription drug abuse. This settlement demonstrates the Justice Department's continued commitment to use all of the tools at its disposal to stem the opioid epidemic."
Morris & Dickson said in a statement that the settlement "was not an admission of liability" and that everyone involved wanted "to avoid delay, expense, inconvenience, and uncertainty."