Drug executives face charges, just like street dealers

Posted on April 27, 2019 in Debates

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TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials
April 24, 2019.   By

The U.S. government sent a powerful wake up call to drug company executives this week.

For the first time, it charged a distributor of opioids, Rochester Drug Cooperative, its former CEO and another former executive with the kind of drug felony charges normally brought against the likes of street dealers and cartel bosses.

It’s about time.

After all, the crisis of opioid addiction and overdose deaths has been fuelled by executives in corner offices who knowingly put profits over public safety.

RDC, for example, has now agreed to pay $20 million (U.S.) to resolve the charges that it sold suspiciously large numbers of prescription pills to doctors and pharmacists and prevented regulators who work to stop improper drug trading from doing their jobs.

It’s former chief executive, Laurence Doud has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to distribute illegal narcotics and defraud the United States, while William Pietruszewski pleaded guilty to three criminal counts.

“Why did they do it?” asked United States attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Greed.”

The cost of that greed is, sadly, beyond comprehension.

In 2017 alone, 47,600 individuals in the U.S. died in opioid-related deaths, while the number in Canada was almost 4,000.

And those numbers are the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands more people have become addicts, some after receiving a single opioid prescription for complaints as commonplace as back pain.

Hopefully, these charges — and the prospect of prison — will rein in other drug executives who seek to profit by contributing to such misery.


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