A Democratic senator on Tuesday accused the world’s largest generic drugmaker of “stonewalling” an investigation into the role opioid manufacturers and distributors play in the current drug crisis.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has only provided general information in response to repeated inquiries by her office.
In letters released by McCaskill, the manufacturer outlined the systems it has developed and implemented for identifying potentially suspicious opioid orders from customers.
However, McCaskill said the company has not provided her with correspondence between the company and its buyers detailing efforts to combat drug diversion.
She said Teva has also declined to turn over copies of internal audits of pharmacies and other customers that could show whether the company identified customers who placed questionable opioid orders.
“Teva’s refusal to cooperate with Congressional requests strongly suggests they have something to hide,” McCaskill said in a statement. “I’d hope that everyone involved or associated with the company takes note that they’re dealing with an entity that’s stonewalling a Senate investigation examining a national public health crisis.”
Opioid addiction has grown dramatically in the two decades since the first such drugs were introduced. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies have made billions from opioid sales.
In a response to McCaskill, Teva said it is committed to cooperating with the investigation, but “has a responsibility to undertake this cooperation in a way that will protect its most important stakeholders — its patients — as well as its employees, including those many who reside in your home state of Missouri.”
The company objected to the information McCaskill was requesting, noting that publicly disclosing “specific and sensitive proprietary information about Teva’s customers will chill the willingness of such customers to share information with your Committee and participate in our collective efforts to address opioid abuse.”
In addition, Teva said the records McCaskill requested “could, if publicly released, be potentially misused in pending litigation.”
Many states and municipalities across the country have responded to the opioid epidemic by suing pharmaceutical manufacturers.