Michigan continues lawsuit against opioid distributors during COVID court shutdowns

A videoconference hearing was held Thursday before Judge Patricia Perez Fresard in the state of Michigan’s lawsuit against opioid distributors.

Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit in December against Cardinal Health, Inc., McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. and Walgreens for their part in the distribution and sale of opioids in that state.

“The actions and inactions taken by these companies puts them on the wrong side of Michigan’s Drug Dealer Liability Act and they must answer for the harm their negligent and careless business models have created,” Nessel said. “These companies knowingly and deliberately used their licenses to distribute drugs in our state without controls, and the opioid crisis has been exacerbated as a result of that, leaving behind a litany of grieving families and grave concerns.”

The lawsuit charges that the companies distributed and sold opioids in ways that facilitated and encouraged their flow into the illegal, secondary market, and that the companies failed to maintain adequate controls on the drugs to keep them from being diverted elsewhere. Additionally, the lawsuit charges that the companies chose not to monitor, investigate or report suspicious orders, and knowingly provided opioids to “pill mills”.

The suit charges that because the companies knowingly participated in the illegal distribution of prescription opioids, they are liable to the state under the Drug Dealer Liability Act for damages caused by the opioids, including the state’s expenses for things like increased law enforcement and prosecution efforts and paying for additional health care expenses, drug treatment programs and incarceration.

During the hearing, the companies argued the court should dismiss the state’s suit, saying that they have no duty to prevent illegal diversion of opioids, and that they are protected from liability by the state’s Product Liability Act.

The state argued that the Product Liability Act does not protect the companies from their responsibility to prevent illegal distribution.

No future court dates have yet been set.

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