INDIANAPOLIS - The state of Indiana is aggressively going after three pharmaceutical and healthcare companies that Attorney General Curtis Hill says are primarily to blame for the opioid crisis in the state.

Hill filed suit Wednesday against AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp., saying the three drug distributors are responsible for a “commanding share” of the prescription opioids sold to Indiana pharmacies.

“Distributors play a crucial role in the drug supply chain,” says Hill.

The complaint alleges the companies violated the law by distributing prescription opioids that they knew, or reasonably should have known, exceeded legitimate medical and scientific needs.

The suit also accuses the companies of failing to maintain appropriate controls over such distribution. Hill says these drugs were being overprescribed, abused and diverted outside legitimate medical channels for years.

“When they conduct themselves responsibly, distributors should function as a significant line of defense to protect the public from too many pills flooding into our communities and being diverted away from legitimate medical channels,” says Hill. “In Indiana, these distributors failed to meet their legal obligations, and the results have been devastating.”  

Data from the Attorney General’s office shows Indiana has one of the highest rates of opioid prescribing in the nation.

From 2012 to 2016, 58 of 92 Indiana counties had opioid prescribing rates greater than 100 prescriptions per 100 residents per year. Hill says that’s one of the highest rates in the country.

Between 2010 and 2016, more than 3,000 Hoosiers died of opioid overdoses.

Hill says the companies breached their duty “by failing to maintain effective controls in their distribution systems and that these companies profited handsomely — to the tune of billions of dollars nationally — by their unlawful conduct.”

While not mentioning a specified amount, Attorney General Hill is seeking “civil penalties, injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains; and other appropriate relief.”

Click here to read a redacted version of complaint.