By Associated Press - Thursday, December 6, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi is suing three opioid distributors, saying it failed to prevent the diversion of those drugs into the state and contributed to the opioid crisis.

The complaint was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court against Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., Attorney General Jim Hood said in a news release Thursday. It alleges the companies breached their legal duties to “monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report suspicious orders of opioids.” Hood said that is a violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act and “as a result, Mississippi has been flooded with opioids and is suffering an ongoing public health crisis.”

The complaint alleges that if the companies had done what they were legally obligated to do, the opioid epidemic would not be what it is today. In 2017 alone, Hood said Mississippi had enough opioids supplied to provide 61 pills for every man, woman and child in the state.

“If these distributors were attending to their supply rates, they would realize that amount of pills is way too large for a state the size of Mississippi,” Hood said. “These companies must own up to their contribution to this deadly crisis, and I intend on holding them fully accountable.”

AmerisourceBergen Corp. is based in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania; McKesson Corp is located in San Francisco, California and Cardinal Health is in Dublin, Ohio.

The companies have said they have reformed their reporting and monitoring practices in recent years and will work with regulators and law enforcement to combat opioid misuse and addiction.

In December 2015, Hood filed the first lawsuit on behalf of a state against multiple drug manufacturing companies for falsely marketing opioids as rarely addictive. That lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Chancery Court against five of the largest opioid manufacturers. One of the companies in that suit, Purdue Pharma - along with three of its executives - pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal charges and paid more than $600 million in fines related to intentional misrepresentations as to the addictiveness of OxyContin.

That lawsuit’s current status was not immediately available.

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