Congress investigating local drug distributor

6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 Business
FILE

Congress is ordering a Springboro company to turn over documents as part of an investigation into how suspicious volumes of painkillers imported to West Virginia contributed to the rural state’s opioid overdose epidemic.

Miami-Luken, a drug wholesaler headquartered at 265 S. Pioneer Blvd., is separately fighting a Drug Enforcement Administration effort to take away its distribution license.

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“As part of this investigation, the Committee is seeking information to understand your distribution practices for various opioids in West Virginia in light of reports that distributors may have supplied the state with questionable high quantities of drugs,” the Sept. 25 letter read, which was addressed to Miami Luken Chairman of the Board Joseph Mastandrea and CEO Michael Faul.

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce requested Miami-Luken respond by Oct. 9 to the committee’s letter.

Miami-Luken did not immediately return a request for comment.

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The letter requests documents like their response to the DEA effort to take away its distribution license, a copy of its protocols for how employees should report suspicious drug orders, and any documents related to its drug order distributions to certain West Virginia pharmacies.

The letter also asks for all documents related to the company’s ousted former chief executive, Anthony Rattini. The letter says Mastandrea plans to testify that Rattini was removed as DEA inquiries increased and he decided Rattini was not having the company comply with the DEA.

The congressional committee wants to know if anyone else was removed besides Rattini.

The Congressional investigation was partially prompted by ongoing reporting by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, which has been investigating the flood of powerful prescription painkillers into the state.

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The Gazette-Mail’s reporting found in six years, drug wholesalers brought 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the state, which divides out to 433 pain pills for every adult and children. The investigation found an example of a pharmacy in a town of 392 that received 9 million hydrocodone pills in two years.

“If these reports are true, it would appear that the state of West Virginia may have received extraordinary amounts of opioids from distributors beyond what that population could safely use,” the letter said.

The DEA has alleged that Miami-Luken failed to effectively control the drugs it distributed and failed to disclose suspicious orders of controlled substances like oxycodone and hydrocodone, to customers in southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

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