Drug execs face life in prison for opioid-related charges

April 24, 2019

For the first time ever, federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against two former pharma executives for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. 

The executives both worked for Rochester Drug Co-Operative, one of the nation’s largest drug distributors, which was also charged for conspiracy to distribute controlled narcotics. According to the Department of Justice, the company and its executives willfully distributed opioids to pharmacies known for dispensing narcotics for “illegitimate purposes” and defrauded the DEA. The company has agreed to pay $20 million to settle the charges. 

Although several lawsuits have brought civil charges against pharma executives who profited from the opioid epidemic, this case marks the first time criminal charges have been filed. 

“Today’s charges should send shock waves throughout the pharmaceutical industry,” Ray Donovan, DEA special agent in charge, said in a statement.

One of the former executives, William Pietruskzewski, has already pleaded guilty and has agreed to cooperate with the government, while the other, Laurence Doud, is gearing up to fight the charges. Doud’s attorney accused the government of attempting to cover up its own wrongdoing by framing his client. 

Both executives face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. 

Read the full Wall Street Journal report.