Business & Real Estate

California pharma board orders drugmakers to give opioid overdose meds to first responders

The California State Board of Pharmacy reached a settlement with McKesson Corp. that will compel the company to provide $1.5 million worth of free opioid overdose-reversing medication to first responders.

In a news release issued Friday morning, the state board said it had reprimanded the San Francisco-based drugmaker for failing to report suspicious orders of oft-abused opioid painkillers to the Drug Enforcement Administration in connection with prior allegations of violations.

The Department of Justice previously alleged the company violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by shipping off increasing amounts oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to pharmacies across the country between 2008 and 2013 amid a national opioid epidemic.

McKesson agreed to pay $150 million in civil penalties in 2017, and it will pay $4,000 more in investigative costs as a result of the board’s public reprimand, according to the release. Earlier this month, Drug Enforcement Administration agents obtained a warrant to inspect the company’s West Sacramento facility for records of how it distributed the highly addictive drugs in connection with that settlement.

The company will be giving $1.5 million worth of naloxone — which can block the effects of opioids and even reverse an overdose if given quickly enough — to police officers, firefighters and other nonprofit first responder organizations in California. Naloxone is sold as Narcan, Evizio and other brands.

The settlement was made late last month and will take effect by the end of August. McKesson must submit a proposal to the state board 120 days after it takes effect, specifying which organizations will be receiving the naloxone and how much they will get, according to the release.

McKesson must also report to the board every six months on its naloxone distribution and it must distribute all of the naloxone within four years.

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Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.