- Teamsters filed a lawsuit in Ohio against several pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), drug manufacturers and distributors over their role in the opioid crisis.
- The union says its members are particularly at risk because opioids are frequently prescribed to treat on-the-job injuries in fields such as construction and manufacturing. These opioids, used to dull pain, are highly addictive and can be ruinous to lives and careers.
- The lawsuit alleges actors in the drug supply chain "put profits before people" and should be held accountable in the widespread health crisis.
While the sentiment is nearly universal that opioid addiction is a widespread epidemic, disagreement remains over who is responsible or bears the most responsibility for the crisis.
Many states and organizations are pointing fingers at the players in the drug supply chain, claiming that each link has a responsibility to stop the production and flow of drugs to patients.
"The Distributor Defendants could have and should have been able to stem the excess flow of opioids, but they did not," the lawsuit states.
Drug distributors, however, have rejected the notion that they're solely responsible for the opioid crisis.
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), which represents some of the defendants in the lawsuit including Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, says distributors are "logistics experts," and their primary responsibility is to safely deliver all types of medicines.
"The idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated," John Parker, SVP of HDA, told Supply Chain Dive.
While actors in the health supply chain aren't individually willing to accept full responsibility for the opioid crisis, they're certainly not ignoring the crisis. Cardinal Health agreed to pay $44 million to settle civil penalties for negligence in stemming the opioid epidemic. And several alliances banded together to form the Allied Against Opioid Abuse coalition, to help educate and create awareness about the health crisis.