San Mateo County files lawsuit against McKesson over distribution of opioid-based drugs

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The County of San Mateo is suing San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation and two other big pharmaceutical distributors. The county says the three companies are causing a public health crisis.

The lawsuit goes after what lawyer Joe Cochett calls "legalized drug dealers."

"The only difference between the three people we're suing, the three entities we're suing and drug dealers is they operate out of high-rise buildings in suits and ties," plaintiff's attorney Joe Cochetti said.

San Mateo County is suing San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and Ameri-sourcebergen, which distribute opioid-based pharmaceuticals. "Our lawsuit is really focused on the three big distributors, which have over 90 percent of the market," San Mateo County Supervisor President David Pine said. "They're the ones who move this deadly product in the pipeline."

The pipeline, is made up of doctors, pharmacies and illegal dealers. And the deadly product is opiod-based drugs, which the lawsuit says are over prescribed and sold without telling customers the real dangers of addiction.

Last year in this county, 97 people died from drugs. "We're seeing more overdoses reported where you have 37 residents die due to opiods," Pine said.

Thousands more were treated for opiod addiction. The lawsuit is asking for damages and money that will go back to San Mateo County to cover the costs what it calls
a "public health crisis." "You know who ends up paying for that? The County taxpayer, the hospital, the policemen," Cochetti said.

"We would certainly use these proceeds to pay those costs and hopefully do outreach with our citizens about the danger of these drugs," Pine said.

McKesson Corporation did not provide comment and the two other corporations did not return ABC7 News' call.

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