Opioid distributor faces criminal charges

Federal prosecutors file criminal charges against opioid distributor and what Michigan employees on workers’ compensation need to know about their legal rights.


The Washington Post reports the U.S. Government has filed criminal charges against a major opioid distributor and two of its former executives. This is the first-time criminal penalties have been used against one of these companies. Conspiracy to distribute controlled narcotics for nonmedical reasons has been alleged. This includes supplying “tens of millions” of pills to drugstores from 2012 to 2017 that were used for illegal purposes. These charges are sure to send a warning to other distributors about how they sell their drugs.

We have written a great deal about the opioid crisis in the United States. It has caused tremendous suffering and killed more than 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017. The odds of dying from an opioid overdose have increased to 1 in 96. Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident, from a fall, a gun assault, pedestrian accident, or drowning.

Michigan saw a record number of overdose deaths when 2,729 people lost their lives in 2017. Recent statistics have shown a drop in opioid prescriptions. This has been attributed to new rules and more aggressive enforcement actions.

The Michigan Legislature recently enacted a seven-day limit for opioid prescriptions for treatment of acute pain. Individuals with cuts, scrapes, burns, broken bones, strained muscles, torn cartilage, and who are recovering from surgical procedures experience this type of pain. Acute pain usually resolves quickly.

Workers’ compensation rules also prohibit opioid reimbursement beyond 90 days unless specific procedures are followed. This includes detailed physician reporting with regular urine screening, a written treatment plan, and conscientious effort to reduce pain through alternative means. We are seeing insurance companies aggressively dispute reimbursement of opioid prescriptions if these rules are not followed.

The opioid crisis is close to our hearts because many of our clients get prescribed these powerful painkillers. Patients can become dependent upon these drugs and it prolongs suffering. This occurs even when prescription drugs are being used correctly. Here is some information that all Michigan employees on workers’ compensation need to know about their legal rights.

Help is available under workers’ compensation

Michigan employees who become dependent upon opioids because of a workplace injury can seek help under workers’ compensation. This includes addiction treatment whether it be inpatient or outpatient care. Alternative methods of pain control will also be covered. Medical treatment is covered in full and there should never be any out-of-pocket expenses. Wage loss benefits continue while a person cannot work and is recovering from addiction.

We encourage anyone who is battling opioid addiction to seek help. This includes employees who have their workers’ compensation claims disputed. Our attorneys will fight to make sure medical treatment and lost wages are covered. Please do not suffer in silence!

Hold responsible parties accountable through civil lawsuits

Michigan employees who are on workers’ compensation can also pursue civil actions against responsible third-parties. Doctors and pharmacies who improperly prescribed or supplied opioids can be held accountable. It is also possible to join class action lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of these powerful drugs. The insurance carrier for workers’ compensation will have a statutory lien on any settlement proceeds so it is a good idea to speak with an attorney before decisions are made.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

New record for opioid deaths in Michigan

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