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Distributors and regulators blame the opioid epidemic

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Opioid distribution companies and federal regulators have been singled out as a contributing factor to the nation’s opioid epidemic in a landmark civil lawsuit in West Virginia.

A former official with the Drug Enforcement Administration and distributors each argued on Wednesday that the other side ignored requests for regulatory and policy compliance, The Herald-Dispatch reported. This could have led to stopping the flow of pills into local communities, they said.

The Cabell County and Town of Huntington lawsuit charges AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. fuel the epidemic. The trial is taking place in Charleston.

Joe Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA’s Hijack Control Office from 2006 to 2015, said distributors failed to follow DEA policies.

McKesson’s attorney Paul Schmidt said Rannazzisi made a series of drastic changes when he took his position, but did not communicate them clearly. Schmidt said distributors attempted to change their policies for monitoring suspicious orders, but ultimately failed due to the breakdown in communication.

The companies have maintained that poor communication and pill quotas set by federal agents are behind the outbreak, as well as an increase in prescriptions written by doctors.

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