DEA Allows Big Pharma Giant that Helped Fuel Opioid Crisis To Continue Operating

A Big Pharma company which had their license revoked for distributing suspicious shipments of opioids has been given their license back thanks to a little help from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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The DEA has rescinded a 2023 directive which previously ordered a pharmaceutical company to shutter operations after they were found to have helped perpetuate the nationwide opioid crisis.

Morris & Dickson, a multi-billion dollar Big Pharma giant which has been in business since 1841 will be permitted to continue selling drugs to Americans as per the result of a settlement reached with the DEA on Wednesday. This comes just under a year after the pharmaceutical wholesaler had their license revoked for continuing to produce and distribute suspicious shipments of controlled substances for years after a judge recommended their license be revoked for “cavalier disregard” of controlled substance laws. They also failed to report thousands of shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone to the DEA. 

“Of all the cases I handled as an administrative law judge for the DEA, Morris & Dickson’s violations were the most blatant and egregious,” Judge Charles Dorman told the Associated Press. “In addition, I saw no real acceptance of responsibility for their violations.”

According to the DEA, Morris & Dickson will pay a $19 million fine and submit to heightened reporting requirements for five years as well as forfeit one of their two DEA Certificates of Registration, but they will be permitted to continue producing controlled substances from schedule two to five of the Controlled Substances Act. They also admitted all wrongdoing for their past actions.

“Drug distributors like Morris & Dickson have a responsibility to protect the safety and health of customers and maintain effective controls against diversion of highly addictive controlled substances. At the height of the opioid crisis, Morris & Dickson failed to uphold that responsibility, and turned a blind eye as thousands of unusually large orders for hydrocodone and oxycodone went out the door,” said DEA spokesperson Katherine Pfaff. “Today, Morris & Dickson takes an important first step by admitting wrongdoing and paying for its misconduct, and today’s settlement will ensure that such irresponsible practices will not continue in the future.”

Morris and Dickson’s legal wrongdoing came to light as the result of an Associated Press investigation in 2023 which not only found that the nation’s fourth largest drug distributor was playing it fast and loose with dangerous opioids, but also that the four-year delay in DEA action may have been the result of the so-to-speak “revolving door” between public entities and private companies which can lead to biased decision making at the government level.

In the case of Morris and Dickson one such DEA employee, Louis Milione, spent 21 years working with the DEA in the Office of Diversion Control before retiring in 2017. After that, the Associated Press found that Milione became a consultant for the companies he was previously a regulator of, including Morris and Dickson, who hired him on a $3 million contract to essentially save their ability to produce and supply painkillers after the DEA accused the company of turning a blind eye to large suspicious orders of opioids. 

Milione advocated for Morris & Dickson in court to little or no avail as the judge presiding over the case wrote a long scathing 159-page report recommending Morris and Dickson have their license revoked. According to the Associated Press, it was not until four years later when the AP asked the DEA to comment on their investigation into Morris and Dickson that the DEA finally followed through on what the judge recommended and revoked their license, only to reinstate it with this recent order less than a year later.

“If the DEA had issued its order in a timely manner, one could then credibly believe that its second-in-command was not involved despite an obvious conflict of interest,” said Craig Holman, an ethics expert at the watchdog group Public Citizen in Washington to the Associated Press in 2023. “The mere fact that its action has been delayed four years just raises red flags. It casts the entire process under grave suspicion.”

Morris & Dickson released a brief statement on their website regarding the DEA’s decision to reverse the original license revocation, choosing to give a very general thank you to the DEA rather than going into specifics about the case.

“Morris & Dickson wants to thank the DEA for their recognition of our extensive efforts over the past five years to expand and improve our compliance system for suspicious order monitoring. We appreciate the DEA’s collaboration with us on our shared commitment to patient safety, and we are pleased that the DEA’s actions acknowledge both our current state-of-the-art compliance program and our commitment to continued enhancements into the future,” Morris & Dickson said.

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4 comments
  1. I don’t care that they sold the drugs, I care that they did so without full disclosure to the patient. We are far too trusting of doctors and should take personal responsibility for the substances we consume; with that said we should also have the right to choose to take whatever we see fit whether it is deemed harmful or not.

  2. Oxycodone was known to be physically addictive physically and psychologically addictive when it was first invented in 1916.
    It is truly mind boggling to me that millions (?) of american supposedly qualified doctors were sufficiently ignorant of that fact and were susceptible to a crude ‘big pharma’ marketing scheme telling them that a slower release formulation somehow lacked addiction. Then the FDA in all its wisdom entirely blames the pharmaceutical companies for simply encouraging their supposedly informed customers, the doctors, to ‘over-prescribe’ oxycodone to patients in pain; thus supposedly resulting in an ‘opioid overdose crisis’.
    It appalls me how few people publicly discussing the recent increase in opioid deaths in the USA stop to consider that the vast majority of the opioid induced deaths are of people NOT intending to kill themselves ie. they’re accidents. In fact almost all of those accidents could be prevented if those drugs weren’t highly legally restricted (prohibited), where people actually understood the concept of tolerance, drug combinations (other CNS depressants combined) and knew what dose they were taking.
    Prohibition induced ignorance is the real killer, not Big Pharma and not the prescribing doctors.
    It is simply not possible to disclose all the possible effects of prescribed drugs to patients (with many side effects being incomprehensible to the average patient anyway); this is why, legally speaking, prescribing doctors are essentially never liable for not informing a patient of a possible side effect. In fact medication ‘inserts’ listing possible side effects have only been getting larger in recent years (thanks sometimes to public pressure eg. the new suicide warnings in SSRI med inserts).

  3. The whole problem here is the narrative the DEA has been toting is pure BS. Clinical statistics say that only 0.3% of patients taking any opiate become clinically addicted no matter which opiate it is.. They may develop tolerance and need dose increases but the same thing happens with multiple types of meds and opiates are no exception. They just happen to be the only ones that society has put a moral judgment on. Some people go years taking opiates responsibly with no ill effects. Diverted opiates are usually pills that were stolen from or given by someone else to whom they were prescribed, stolen being the most likely scenario. As for Fentanyl, the “crisis” has exploded because desperate people in agonizing pain are turning to the street in lieu of ending their own lives. These are NOT overdoses. This is being poisoned. These poor people would have been better off being prescribed medication where the quantity they have access to and whether they are taking them correctly can be monitored by a Dr. They never meant to die. They just wanted relief. Keeping opiates from everyone who needs them because 0.3% can’t use them right is like taking the car keys away from everyone because some people can’t drive right, It is RIDICULOUS. Pain can and does kill people out right and calling a person in pain a drug seeker is as good as calling a person of fire a water seeker. The DEA needs to get the hell out of controlling health care and medication and do what they should be doing which is get back in their lane and DO SOMETHING about Fentanyl. The number of innocent people they have killed with their misbegotten policies is staggering. One of them was my 76 yr old father. I would suggest if you are going to write about this , get your facts straight first. Otherwise you are complicit in the deaths of innocent people which include kids who are forced to die writhing and screaming in pain while their helpless parents can only stand by and watch. It is EVIL and BARBARIC and a horrible metric for where we are as a society.

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