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Ohio prosecutors file charges against opioid distributor Miami-Luken

Published on 22/07/19 at 09:48am
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Federal prosecutors in Cincinnati have filed criminal charges against opioid distributor Miami-Luken, and four others, over the role they played in the opioid crisis in the United States.

Two former Miami-Luken executives and two pharmacists have been charged with fuelling the opioid crisis and flooding small towns in Appalachia with huge quantities of opioid drugs.

The charges comes as the second set of criminal charges against a wholesaler over the role it played in supplying  opioid painkillers and fuelling the opioid crisis which has killed hundreds of thousands in the US.

Former Miami-Luken President Anthony Rattini, former compliance officer James Barlay and two West Virginia pharmacists Samuel Ballengee and Devonna Miller-West were charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances.

The use of criminal charges represents a shift in the way that those who participated in the opioid crisis are being held to account.

The case comes after Miami-Luken acknowledged they had sent 3.7 million hydrocodone pills to the town of Kermit, West Virginia between 2005 and 2011. Kermit has a population of around 380 people.

Miami-Luken supplied drugs to 200 pharmacies in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Tennessee generating $173 million in sales each year.

Prosecutors say Miami-Luken executives ignored obvious signs of abuse as they distributed 2.3 million oxycodone pills and 2.6 million hydrocodone pills to Miller-West’s pharmacy in Oceana, West Virginia. According to the Guardian Miller West’s Westside pharmacy, which was willing to prescribe opioids to anyone willing to pay, brought in customers from hundreds of miles away.  

The Ohio-based firm also sent 6.4 million pills Samuel Ballengee’s Tug Valley Pharmacy in the West Virginia town of Williamson, even after being advised by the DEA of their responsibilities as a wholesaler to ensure the drugs were not being diverted.

Each defendant is charged with conspiring to illegally distribute controlled substances, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Louis Goss

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