Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have launched a criminal probe into at least six major pharmaceutical giants over their role in the opioid crisis, according to regulatory filings.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York issued grand jury subpoenas to manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Mallinckrodt, Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc. and distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp and McKesson Corp, according to documents that the companies filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Brooklyn federal investigation will probe whether the companies intentionally allowed opioid painkillers to flood communities in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to the Wall Street Journal.
If the probe results in criminal charges, it could be the largest prosecution yet of drug companies alleged to have contributed to opioid epidemic that as seen at least 400,000 people die from overdoses of legal and illegal opioids since 1999.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have launched a criminal probe into at least six major pharmaceutical giants over their role in the opioid crisis, according to regulatory filings
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York issued grand jury subpoenas to manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (a Teva plant in Jerusalem pictured above), Mallinckrodt, Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc. and distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp and McKesson Corp
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson told the Wall Street Journal the company believes its policies and procedures to stop opioid medications from being used for non-medical purposes complied with the law
According to the filing of Teva, the Israeli American multinational pharmaceutical company received the subpoena from Brooklyn prosecutors in August.
Teva said in a statement DailyMail.com that the subpoena was ‘previously disclosed in Teva’s public securities filings for the third quarter,’ adding that ‘Teva is cooperating with the subpoena’.
‘We are confident in our order monitoring practices and policies, which are designed to ensure that medicines are delivered appropriately and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,’ the pharmaceuticals company said.
Amneal declined to comment on the probe but disclosed that the company received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office in May.
The other listed pharmaceutical companies are yet to reply to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson told the Wall Street Journal that it understood the subpoena was a part of a broader industry wide investigation. The spokesman said it believes its policies and procedures to stop opioid medications from being used for nonmedical purposes complied with the law.
Global pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt was also subpoenaed in the probe. The company generated 90 percent of its sales in 2017 from the U.S. market. The company was founded in St. Louis Missouri and is headquartered in Ireland for tax purposes
Amneal Pharmaceuticals is an American company headquartered in Bridgewater, New Jersey
This chart by the Center for Siease Control shows the rise of opioid deaths from 2000 to 2017. At least 400,000 people have died from overdoses of legal and illegal opioids since 1999
The probe is in its early stages and prosecutors are expected to subpoena additional companies in the coming months, one source told the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this year the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan charged the Rochester Drug Cooperative with breaking federal narcotics law under the Controlled Substances Act by illegally distributing prescription opioids to pharmacies it knew were dispensing the drugs to people without legitimate medical needs.
From 2012 to 2016 alone the sales of oxycodone increased by 800 percent, prosecutors said.
The Controlled Substances Act requires companies to monitor commonly abused drugs, report suspicious orders, maintain compliance programs, and disclose suspicious pharmacy customers to the government.
The charges were historic as it was the first time in the U.S. that a pharmaceutical company was hit with charges typically used to go after drug traffickers.
The charges are a part of a government crackdown on drug manufacturers.
AmerisourceBergen, an American drug wholesale company, was also subpoenaed in the probe
Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters hold signs while protesting during the McKesson Corp., a German healthcare and pharmaceutical company that operates in 14 countries around the world
Families who have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis protest in front of Suffolk Superior Court in Boston during a case against Purdue Pharma in January 2019
In September, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Financial Services announced the state is suing drug manufacturers for allegedly scamming New Yorkers out of $2billion by peddling opioids that companies knew were dangerous.
Nearly every state and more than 2,500 city and county governments have filed lawsuits against officials and companies involved in the opioid supply chain.
The most high profile case involves the lawsuit against OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma LP, which led the company to declare bankruptcy.