Wholesale Pharmaceutical Distributor Agrees to Settlement with DEA

In addition to paying $22 million in civil penalties, Morris & Dickson agreed to upgrade its compliance program by investing millions of dollars to hire additional staff and implement new protocols and standards to ensure compliance with federal regulations requiring them to report suspicious orders of controlled substances.

Morris & Dickson Company LLC, the largest privately owned wholesale pharmaceutical distributor in the United States and the fourth largest wholesale distributor in the country, has agreed to pay the United States $22 million in civil penalties to resolve claims that it violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to report suspicious orders of hydrocodone and oxycodone, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley and United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced May 24.

In addition to paying the $22 million, Morris & Dickson agreed to upgrade its compliance program by investing millions of dollars to hire additional staff and implement new protocols and standards to ensure compliance with federal regulations requiring them to report suspicious orders of controlled substances, according to the DEA news release.

"The failure to report suspicious orders as required by federal regulations contributes to the opioid epidemic, which has caused devastating harm to individuals and our communities," said Byerley. "The settlement with Morris & Dickson demonstrates the resolve by DEA to use all available tools to address this crisis at every level and reduce the availability of highly addictive, dangerous drugs."

"The fight against opioid abuse is among our nation's most pressing law enforcement and public health initiatives," Joseph said. "Opioids are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, killing approximately 130 Americans every day. About 40 percent of these deaths involve prescription drug abuse. This settlement demonstrates the Justice Department's continued commitment to use all of the tools at its disposal to stem the opioid epidemic. Louisiana citizens should know that my office and our local DEA agents will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute any manufacturer, distributor, pharmacy, or doctor who, whether negligently or intentionally, fail in their duty to appropriately control the distribution and use of these deadly drugs."

The release state that Morris & Dickson reported total revenues of more than $4 billion in its fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2018, and since January 2014, Morris & Dickson distributed controlled substances to approximately 800 retail pharmacies across 17 states, distributing more than 600 million dosage units. Morris & Dickson services hospitals, alternative and other health care providers, and retail pharmacies out of its Shreveport, La., facility.

It states that the settlement arose from a DEA Office of Diversion Control investigation into the company's alleged failure to report suspicious orders of hydrocodone and oxycodone.

A statement posted on the Morris & Dickson website says, "We pledge to do everything within our power as a wholesale distributor to ensure that medications are not shipped to pharmacies that divert to people other than patients in need."

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