You know the 220,000 Americans who died from opioid overdoses from 1999-2017? To stop the epidemic, most states and over 2500 cites and counties have filed lawsuits against opioid suppliers and marketers, yet the deaths continue—more than 17,000 a year.
Now the federal government is intervening with possible criminal charges under the Controlled Substances Act, a law that is typically used to pursue drug dealers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a half dozen pharmaceutical companies just received grand-jury subpoenas for a federal probe, examining whether they knowingly allowed pain killers to flow into communities: Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Mallinckrodt, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson. The stocks of all six companies dropped this morning.
If criminal charges do come, the government will essentially be charging companies with drug trafficking, arguing that executives both knew that the medications were going to people without medical need and failed to report it.