American pharmaceutical wholesaler facing opioid-related charges

First charges of their kind

A pharmaceutical distributor in the U.S. is facing criminal charges for the first time over the opioid crisis.

Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC) and two of its former executives have been charged with the same kind of felony trafficking offences as street dealers and cartel kingpins.

Prosecutors allege the company ignored red flags and shipped tens of millions of oxycodone pills and fentanyl products to pharmacies they knew were distributing drugs illegally.

Greed a motivating factor

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, says greed was a motivating factor. The company’s sales soared, as did the compensation of its chief executive.

The charges are expected to reverberate through the pharmaceutical industry, where large corporations and senior executives have long escaped criminal responsibility for the opioid epidemic.

Still, the company may avoid prosecution. It has signed an agreement under which the government will hold off on prosecuting as long as RDC pays a $20M fine, complies with the controlled substances law and submits to five years of supervision by an independent monitor.

Related: Barrie Stops Short of Declaring Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency

A spokesman for the company admitted they made mistakes and understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences.