Cardinal Well being, one of many nation’s main drug distributors, is preventing Florida’s try to glean how a lot revenue the corporate has made distributing ache drugs, because the state tries to recoup cash spent combating opioid dependancy and overdoses.
The wrangling over Cardinal’s income is available in a lawsuit, filed greater than two years in the past by the Florida lawyer common’s workplace, searching for unspecified damages towards drug producers, retailers and distributors. The case is one among myriad related authorized challenges all through the nation in regards to the devastation wrought by opioids corresponding to oxycodone.
The Florida litigation features a tangle over data sought by Legal professional General Ashley Moody within the state’s effort to gather details about ache tablet distribution and prescriptions going again greater than twenty years.
Pasco County Circuit Decide Kimberly Sharpe final week gave Walgreen Co., often called Walgreens, 90 days to show over dozens of classes of meting out knowledge from 1996 via the current from prescriptions for 39 completely different medicine. The data comes from prescriptions for 14 opioids, corresponding to codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone; 14 varieties of benzodiazepines, together with diazepam; a number of muscle relaxers; six varieties of sleeping drugs; and naloxone, an opioid therapy.
The sought-after Walgreens’ prescription knowledge additionally contains the names of prescribing physicians or well being care suppliers; names of pharmacists meting out the medicine; “unique” figuring out numbers related to sufferers; and the varieties of identification utilized by individuals selecting up prescriptions.
Moody’s workplace can be searching for details about the medicine’ retail costs, the prices of the medicine to the pharmacy and the quantities charged to third-party payers for every of the prescriptions, requests that induced Walgreens to balk.
“The state appears to have included these topics for the purposes of attempting to devise some calculation of Walgreens’ profits from opioid sales. None of them are relevant to the question to whether an individual prescription was properly filled,” the pharmacy chain’s attorneys wrote in a standing report filed this month.
Sharpe’s Nov. 23 order, nevertheless, requires Walgreens to offer the pricing info.
Cardinal can be pushing again towards the state’s requests for details about its funds.
The state is searching for “documents showing Cardinal Health’s revenues and profits from sales or distribution of opioids in Florida — information that is indisputably relevant to damages, among other issues in this case,” attorneys representing Moody’s workplace wrote in a standing report filed on Nov. 17.
Some data already produced by Cardinal present that the corporate “appears to track and can identify sales or distribution of and profits from opioids in Florida,” the state’s attorneys argued.
Cardinal, nevertheless, mentioned it doesn’t have the documentation the state is searching for.
“This is litigation for litigation’s sake,” attorneys for the distributor wrote in a response final week. “Cardinal Health has plainly and repeatedly answered the state’s question: Cardinal Health does not ‘calculate or report profitability for pharmaceutical products’ in the regular course of business.”
However the state is pushing the problem.
“Fundamentally, Cardinal still has not provided profits for opioid sales and distribution in Florida and still has not directly stated whether it is unable to do so — or is instead unwilling to do so,” the state’s attorneys wrote.
However, quoting from a 1999 Florida appeals-court ruling in a separate case, Cardinal’s attorneys argued that the state “is not entitled to have (Cardinal Health) respond to a request to produce by creating a non-existent document.”
Final month, the Division of Justice introduced it had reached a settlement with Purdue Pharma LP and particular person shareholders of the Sackler household for greater than $eight billion, after the corporate was charged with conspiracy and fraud associated to gross sales of its opioid merchandise, together with OxyContin, a model title for drugs that include oxycodone. Purdue Pharma is amongst greater than a dozen defendants within the Florida litigation.
The dispute over the distributors’ and pharmacy chain’s income within the Florida lawsuit comes amid stories that opioid overdoses and deaths have climbed through the coronavirus pandemic.
Sharpe, who will maintain a listening to Tuesday, has scheduled a two-month jury trial within the case to start in March 2022.
Cardinal Well being, Walgreens and CVS — one other defendant within the Florida case — have already paid excessive costs for his or her pain- medicine gross sales or distribution in Florida.
In a 2012 settlement, Cardinal Well being was banned from transport and promoting narcotics from its Lakeland facility for 2 years. 4 years later, Cardinal agreed to pay $44 million to finalize the civil settlement with the U.S. Division of Justice.
Walgreens agreed to an $80 million penalty in 2013 associated to meting out of extremely addictive narcotics.
And, earlier this yr, CVS agreed to pay $22 million in fines after Drug Enforcement Administration investigators revealed that staff at two of the chain’s Sanford shops have been doling out managed substances with out reliable prescriptions. Three years in the past, federal authorities stopped the shops from meting out a variety of extremely addictive managed substances, together with oxycodone.