Drug Company Executive Is Facing Prison
For the first time since our nation’s opioid crisis began in 2013, criminal charges have been filed on big pharma executives. The former executives of Rochester Drug Co-Operative (RDC), which is one of the top-10 largest drug distributors in the US, have been criminally charged. The former Chief Executive, Laurence Doud III, and the company’s former Chief Compliance Officer William Pietruszewski, were individually charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., unlawful distribution of oxycodone/fentanyl and conspiring to defraud suspicious reports with the DEA.
William Pietruszewski pled guilty and agreed to cooperate with the DEA on the investigation. Pietruszewski admitted conspiring to distribute controlled substances, conspiring to defraud the United States and willfully failing to file suspicious order reports with the DEA. In return, he has agreed to pay a $20 million fine and institute changes within the company.
Laurence Doud has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial. Doud is 75 and faces life in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office filed a lawsuit against RDC seeking “penalties and injunctive relief.”
This is important news because recently civil charges were filed against Purdue Pharma drug company (OxyContin manufacturer), and now, with criminal charges being filed on Rochester Drug Co-Operative executives, it proves that big pharma, and its associates knowingly over-prescribed and pushed a highly addictive drug on the unknowing public.
Geoffery S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said:
“This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country. Our office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.”
Berman went on to say that “Doud cared more about profits than the laws intended to protect human life.” The U.S. attorney’s office also stated that the company acknowledged about 8,300 “potentially suspicious orders, including thousands of oxycodone orders,” between 2012 and 2016—but only reported four.
Between 2012 and 2016, the Rochester Drug Co-Operative’s sales grew from 4.7 million to 42.2 million. RDC’s fentanyl sales grew from around 63,000 doses to more than 1.3 million. In that time, Doud’s compensation increased to $1.5 million a year.
“We made mistakes … and RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences…”
Jeff Eller, a spokesperson for Rochester Drug Co-Operative, said in a statement, “We made mistakes … and RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences. We accept responsibility for those mistakes. We can do better, we are doing better, and we will do better.”
Eller went on to say, “One element of the opioid epidemic is a dramatic increase in the volume of prescriptions for opioids and all narcotics … From 2012 to 2017, we did not have adequate systems in place nor were our compliance team and practices rigorous enough to provide adequate controls and oversight over the increased demand for narcotic drug products from pharmacies.”
It is one thing to bring justice to those responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis so that we can have a better future, but if you’re already stuck in the grip of addiction, it is your responsibility to seek help. If you or a loved one needs help, please call us.