Cardinal Health Inc. has consented to compensate $44 million as part of its settlement with the Justice Department of the United States over shipment of large orders of suspicious painkiller from pharmacies of Washington State, New York, Maryland, and Florida.

The Settlement Comes As A Part Of Nation's Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

Cardinal Health previously had an administrative settlement with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012 regarding the same issue. The final settlement between Cardinal Health Inc. and U.S. Justice Department arrives as U.S. authorities' fight against opioid drug wave that hit the nation. The epidemic was believed to have claimed about 1,100 lives due to overdose in Maryland, with more than 350 deaths directly linked to prescribed painkillers.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated that pharmaceutical companies should be joining hands with the nation's authorities in fighting the opioid epidemic instead of being the problem itself.

According to the deal, the pharmaceutical company has to shell out $10 million as its Kinray LLC drug distribution division in New York failed to inform about the suspiciously large oxycodone or hydrocodone drug consignments from pharmacies.

Cardinal Health Ignored 'Red Flags' Before Shipment

According to the lawsuit, during the period January 2011 to May 2012, Kinray distribution unit conveyed the drugs to about 20 New York pharmacy sites in questionable amounts that were way more than the distributor's average sales of the controlled substances to all its consumers. Kinray overlooked the "red flags" and did not care to declare the suspicious consignments to the DEA.

The 2012 administrative agreement barred Cardinal Health from distributing the prescription painkillers for a period of two years.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, stated that the pharmaceutical distributors defy the law while fulfilling abnormally large orders of controlled substances without informing the DEA.

The DEA Works To Combat Illegitimate Use Of Medication

The DEA, with local authorities, has made efforts to cut down the illegitimate distribution of addictive prescription painkillers on the streets. Most of the states now track the number of prescriptions per patient by the drug monitoring programs used by pharmacists and doctors. Moreover, the CDC has provided doctors with a regulation plan intending to reduce the prescribed amount of drugs to patients.

"These agreements allow us to move forward and continue to focus on working with all participants in addressing the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Cardinal Health is committed to working with both public and private partners to do our part and find solutions," said Craig Morford, Cardinal's chief legal and compliance officer, in a press release.

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