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Suit: US drug agency deemed firm ‘kingpin’ in ‘drug cartel’

April 1, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee lawsuit over the opioid epidemic says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration viewed one drug-producing company as the “kingpin within a drug cartel.”

An amended complaint filed Monday in Circuit Court for Cumberland County says the DEA labeled Mallinckrodt a “kingpin” because it shipped opioids in high volumes to pharmacies it knew were feeding “pill mills” in Florida, which supplied Tennessee’s illegal drug market.

St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the characterization.

Drug companies are fielding a flurry of lawsuits nationwide over the scourge of opioid abuse.

The Tennessee complaint was filed on behalf of five district attorneys general and a child born addicted to opioids.

It targets Mallinckrodt and other opioid producers; distributors; pharmacies; alleged “pill mill” prescribers; and Richard Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma.