MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Marion County has filed suit against three of the country's largest prescription drug distributors, claiming they played a role in the opioid crisis that is impacting a number of states across the country.
According to the lawsuit filed Jan. 12, the three defendants – AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health 110 LLC and McKesson Corporation – account for 85 to 90 percent of wholesale drug distribution in the United States.
Marion County alleges in its federal lawsuit that the distributors "flooded the market" with excessive amounts of addictive opioid drugs and failed to comply with federal and state law, therefore breaching their duties "deliberately, knowingly, and for profit."
"The incontrovertible fact is that Defendant Wholesale Distributors have shipped millions of doses of highly addictive controlled opioid drugs into relatively small locales, many of which, according to their own policies as well as state laws, should have been stopped and/or investigated as suspicious orders, but were not," the lawsuit stated.
The county has requested a jury trial in the case.
Marion County has an opioid prescription rate of 115.6 per 100 persons, according to court documents. The U.S. median rate is listed as 66.5.
Cardinal Health responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:
AmerisourceBergen also released the following statement in reference to the lawsuit:
Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the national trade association representing wholesale distributors, released the following statement on behalf of their members McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen:
According to statistics from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 550 deaths occurred from prescription opioid drug overdose in South Carolina in 2016.
Horry County had the largest number of overdose deaths in 2016 with 101, according to DHEC statistics. Charleston County was second with 65, with Greenville County third with 53.
Read the full lawsuit below: