Federal prosecutors launch criminal probe of opioid makers, distributors

Federal prosecutors have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into whether pharmaceutical companies intentionally allowed opioid analgesics to flood communities. The investigation could become the largest prosecution yet of drug companies alleged to have contributed to the opioid epidemic.

Federal prosecutors have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into whether pharmaceutical companies intentionally allowed opioid analgesics to flood communities. The investigation could become the largest prosecution yet of drug companies alleged to have contributed to the opioid epidemic. Prosecutors are examining whether the companies violated the federal Controlled Substances Act, a statute that federal prosecutors have begun using against opioid makers and distributors this year. At least six companies have said in regulatory filings that they received grand-jury subpoenas from the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York: drug manufacturers Teva Pharmaceutical, Mallinckrodt, Johnson & Johnson, and Amneal Pharmaceuticals, and distributors AmerisourceBergen and McKesson. In response to state and local government lawsuits, these companies have denied responsibility for the crisis, stating that they follow all laws around the manufacture and distribution of opioid analgesics. The probe is in its early stages and prosecutors are expected to subpoena additional companies in the coming months, according to a person familiar with the matter. Under the Controlled Substances Act, companies are required to monitor commonly abused drugs, including by reporting suspicious orders, maintaining compliance programs and disclosing suspicious pharmacy customers to the government. Executives and companies can face civil charges under the Controlled Substances Act for not reporting signs, like suspicious orders, that could indicate drugs are being used for nonmedical purposes.