COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — State Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that his office is suing three companies that distribute opioids.
Wilson made the announcement just days after officials said opioid-related overdose deaths increased in 2018.
Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Wilson claims the companies violated the S.C. Unfair Trade Practices Act and created a public nuisance.
“This lawsuit seeks to hold these companies responsible for their part in the opioid crisis. These distributors flooded the State with dangerously addictive drugs, devastating families across South Carolina,” Wilson said in a statement.
His office seeks civil penalities and an injunctive relief against the companies.
Opioid distributors are required to monitor and report suspicious orders. But Wilson asserts the companies named as defendants in the lawsuit shipped orders considered suspicious.
The Attorney General’s Office said the companies distributed the equivalent of nearly 2.2 billion opioid pills in South Carolina from 2006 and 2014.
“In 2017, approximately 300,000,000 opioid pills were dispensed in South Carolina – nearly 60 times the state’s population,” according to Wilson’s office.
The state’s Opioid Emergency Response Team (OERT) officials announced earlier this week that opioid-involved overdose deaths increased nine percent from 2017 to 2018. Officials say deaths increased from 748 to 816.
“While we recognize that many South Carolinians have a legitimate need for opioid treatments, these companies did far more than merely distribute a legal product. Their failure to report and stop suspicious shipments of opioids into South Carolina resulted in tragic consequences to our communities,” Wilson stated in a news release.