On Thursday July 18th, the Department of Justice revealed its latest step in ongoing efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis when they released an indictment against executives from drug distributor Miami-Luken Inc. According to the indictment, Miami-Luken Inc. flooded small rural towns with massive amounts of painkillers in a willful attempt to profit from growing rates of opioid addiction.
Returned by a federal grand jury on Wednesday the 17th, the indictment specifically alleges that former President Anthony Rattini and former compliance officer James Barclay conspired to distribute controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. If convicted, the executives of the Ohio-based drug company could face 20 years in prison. In its Thursday announcement of the indictment, the DOJ claimed that, “Rattini, Barclay and Miami-Luken sought to enrich themselves by distributing millions of painkillers to doctors and pharmacies in rural Appalachia, where the opioid epidemic was at its peak.”
Charged in the same indictment were Devonna Miller-West and Samuel “Randy” Ballengee, owners of the Westside Pharmacy and Tug Valley Pharmacy (respectively,) located in West Virginia. According to the government, the two pharmacists apparently ordered millions of opioid pills to increase illicit painkiller use. They were arrested Thursday morning, along with the other 2 defendants.
The indictment details how Miami-Luken, Rattini and Barclay “ignored obvious signs of abuse and diversion by distributing more than 2.3 million dosage units of oxycodone and 2.6 million dosage units of hydrocodone” to the Westside Pharmacy and Tug Valley Pharmacy between 2011 and 2015. The indictment goes on to claim that local pharmacies acted as “unnamed co-conspirators,” with Miami-Luken, failing to look into excessive opioid ordering. The DOJ also reports that Miami-Luken made between $173 million a year between 2008 and 2015 from opioid sales.
The Miami-Luken indictment marks the second criminal case the DOJ has brought against drug distributors recently, after 2 former executives from New York-based Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc. were charged with selling painkillers they knew were being used illegally. Drug giant McKesson Corp. was also ordered to pay $150 million over allegations they failed to flag suspicious orders, though the government has not been able to bring a serious case against major pharmaceutical companies yet.
While Miami-Luken recently shut down amidst scrutiny from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it continues to face civil litigation as part of a massive suit in Cleveland federal court. Last week, The Washington Post published a report unveiling more details on the amounts of pills major American drug companies flooded the marketplace with, thereby fueling the opioid crisis.
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At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., our Kansas City opioid lawsuit attorneys represent plaintiffs from cities, counties, Native American tribes, and hospitals in suits against pharmaceutical companies. We believe in holding the medical establishment responsible for their negligence, and are willing to fight for justice in court. If you or a loved one has been affected by the opioid crisis, hire a law firm with a reputation for getting results, and contact Bertram & Graf, L.L.C.
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