Generic drugmakers sold most opioids during overdose crisis

Aggressive sales staff were put in charge of oversight. England-based generic drugmaker announced a tentative $1.6 billion settlement.

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National News

February 26, 2020 - 9:52 AM

Generic drug makers like England-based Mallinckrodt’ Pharmaceuticals and Actavis Pharma produced the vast amount of prescription opioids distributed throughout the country, according to data released in a federal court case. Photo by PIXABAY

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals doled out lavish perks for top U.S. employees who hit or beat sales goals for prescription opioids and other drugs: six-figure bonuses and a chance to snag a coveted “President’s Club” award, which could mean vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean or Mexico.

The company placed that same staff in charge of reporting any sales of its painkillers that appeared to be suspicious, including to distributors or pharmacies requesting extreme volumes of its most potent formulas. Asked during a federal court deposition last year whether she believed it was appropriate to put incentive-motivated sales staff in charge of calling out questionable sales, Karen Harper, who oversaw Mallinckrodt’s suspicious order monitoring system, said yes.

In fact, as the nation’s opioid overdose crisis began to explode, not a single order with the company between August 2008 and October 2010 rose from the level of “peculiar” to “suspicious,” the category that would have triggered a report to authorities, according to Harper’s deposition.

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