The Latest: Drugmaker: Email does not reflect company stance

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on filings in a case in which local governments seek to hold the drug industry accountable for a nationwide opioid crisis (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

A drugmaker says an email from a former employee telling a distributor to order more opioids even if they weren’t needed is antithetical to the company’s stance.

In the email, a former Mallinckrodt executive told a customer: “If you are low, order more. If you are okay, order a little more.”

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Two Ohio counties suing the drug industry over the opioid crisis cited that as an example of their claim that companies did not comply with a federal requirement that they withhold orders deemed suspicious.

A Mallinckrodt spokesman said in an email that it was “an outrageously callous email from an individual who has not been employed by the company for many years.”

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8:55 p.m.

Two Ohio counties suing over the toll opioids have taken say in a court filing that drugmakers and distributors ignored a requirement that companies refuse to send suspicious orders of the powerful painkillers.

Lawyers representing Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) and Summit counties said in a filing Friday evening that one drug company, Teva, had never had a written system for monitoring suspicious orders as of September 2012.

They also said an executive from Mallinckrodt emailed a distributor asking him to check his inventory of opioids and advised: “If you are low, order more. If you are okay, order a little more.”

Neither company responded immediately to emails Friday night, but a Teva spokeswoman said in an email earlier this week that the company “has not conspired, failed to report suspicious orders or contributed to the abuse of opioids.”

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7:15 p.m.

Drugmakers and distributors say two Ohio counties have produced no proof that they illegally pushed unnecessary prescriptions and led to the nationwide opioid crisis.

The companies’ argument came Friday among a flurry of filings in a case in which local governments seek to hold the drug industry accountable for the deadly opioid epidemic.

Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) and Summit counties are among governments that have argued the pharmaceutical industry should be responsible for the costs of the crisis.

The defendants told Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland that counties haven’t produced evidence that any manufacturer acted unlawfully and have “made no effort” to document that doctors wrote prescriptions that were medically unnecessary.

They also assert that allegations about anything that happened before Oct. 27, 2012, should be dismissed because of statute of limitation laws.

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6:50 p.m.

Two Ohio counties are telling a judge that there’s no doubt the nationwide opioid crisis qualifies by law as a public nuisance.

The argument by Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) and Summit counties came Friday among a flurry of filings in a case in which local governments seek to hold the drug industry accountable for the deadly scourge.

Counties told Judge Dan Polster that pharmaceutical companies have acknowledged during the course of the lawsuit that it’s the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history and has devastated families and communities.

They said drugmakers may deny their conduct was a contributing cause of the crisis or that they bear legal responsibility, but “they cannot deny that the nuisance itself exists.”

A nuisance designation would give governments legal leverage in holding drugmakers liable.

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6 p.m.

Two Ohio counties are asking a judge to find that drugmakers and distributors were not allowed to ship suspicious orders of controlled substances to pharmacies.

The request from Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) and Summit counties came Friday among a flurry of filings in a case in which local governments seek to hold the drug industry accountable for a nationwide opioid crisis.

The motions come days after a key set of data in the cases was made public. According to a Washington Post analysis, it shows that 76 billion pain pills were shipped from 2006 through 2012, a span when overdose deaths ballooned.

Regulations on whether suspicious orders can be shipped is under dispute in the case. A ruling that those orders cannot be shipped would clear the way for governments to assert that drug companies ignored the regulations.

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