Publication date: Jul 28, 2019
The DEA database attributes much of the 76 billion opioid pills produced and shipped from 2006 through 2012 to three companies: Actavis, Par Pharmaceutical and SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt.
(Washington Post illustration/Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa via AP Images) Douglas S. Boothe was the leader of a little-known generic-drug maker seven years ago when federal agents approached his company with an urgent plea: Slash production of an addictive pain medication that was fueling a national crisis.
Boothe -wasn’t interested” and rejected the Drug Enforcement Administration’s request that Actavis voluntarily cut its supply of oxycodone to U. S. pharmacies, according to exhibits unsealed recently in a landmark lawsuit that accuses drug companies of recklessly distributing billions of addictive pain pills despite glaring signs of abuse.
[Newly unsealed exhibits in opioid case reveal inner workings of the drug industry] Drugmaker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, have for years borne the brunt of public criticism for inventing and deceptively marketing one of the most well-known opioid painkillers, OxyContin, in the 1990s.
The documents and a DEA database that tracks every opioid pill sold in the United States from 2006 through 2012 are being made public a year after The Washington Post and the owner of the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia began pushing for their release.
It attributes the vast majority of the 76 billion opioid pills produced and shipped from 2006 through 2012 to three companies that are now controlled by large multinational drugmakers: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Ireland-based Mallinckrodt; Par Pharmaceutical, owned by Endo Pharmaceuticals, also in Ireland; and Actavis, part of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Although federal law compels companies to monitor the pattern, frequency and amounts of drug orders, Boothe emphasized that Actavis could not control how its drugs were ultimately used.
At Actavis, Douglas S. Boothe rejected the DEA’s request that the company voluntarily cut its supply of oxycodone to U. S. pharmacies, according to recently unsealed exhibits.
The companies further asserted that they should not be held responsible for the actions of those who abused the drugs and that the DEA had all the information it needed to block pills from reaching the black market.
What internal drug company documents on opioids reveal Since the landmark fine for deceptive marketing, opioid manufacturers have faced few penalties.
With its approval in hand, and construction of a manufacturing plant underway to make billions of pills a year, Amide became the target of a buyout by what was then Actavis, a company based in Europe.
Months later, Actavis bought a second New Jersey generics company and installed one of its executives, Boothe, as the head of the companies’ combined generics division.
Actavis’s sales of the generic version of OxyContin and other drugs containing oxycodone grew from 559 million in 2006 to more than 1. 1 billion in 2012, according to the DEA database.
Agents in Boockholdt’s office analyzed the supply chains, tracing oxycodone from Actavis’s plants in New Jersey to Walgreens and other pharmacies in Florida, some selling a million doses a year.
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