AmerisourceBergen Subpoenaed by U.S. Over Painkillers

AmerisourceBergen Corp., the third-biggest U.S. drug distributor, was subpoenaed by federal law enforcement agencies for information about the company’s ability to keep controlled substances, such as painkillers, from ending up in the wrong hands.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey and the Drug Enforcement Agency on May 4 asked a unit of the Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania-based company how it keeps controlled substances away from inappropriate users, the company said in a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The subpoenas also request documents concerning specific customers’ purchases of controlled substances,” AmerisourceBergen said in the filing. The company said it is cooperating with the investigations.

Law enforcement agencies including the DEA have been cracking down on so-called “pill mills” where drug abusers seeking pain drugs like oxycontin buy them in large quantities. In 2011, U.S. sales of prescription painkillers amounted to $9 billion, according to IMS Health. Oxycontin is an opioid painkiller that’s classified as a “schedule II” drug by the agency, which means it has high potential for abuse.

Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey, declined to comment on the subpoenas.

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