McCaskill Opens Probe Into Opioid Drugmakers, But Omits Nation's Worst Offender From Her Home State

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Kyle Plantz via,

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., opened an investigation Tuesday into the role drug companies may have played in the nation’s opioid epidemic. She requested internal documents from five leading drugmakers on how they market opioid painkillers and if they knew anything about the dangers of the drugs. Yet, the top opioid prescription manufacturer, which is located in McCaskill’s home state in St. Louis, Missouri, is missing from the initial list of companies she’s investigating.

McCaskill requested internal sales and marketing materials, addiction studies, and contributions made to third-party advocacy groups that may have worked to block efforts to increase regulation of opioids. She sent the letter to Purdue Pharma, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Insys, Mylan, and Depomed.

However, according to data from IMS Health, an information services company for the healthcare industry, there are other companies who had a higher annual opioid prescription total in 2016 than some of the companies on McCaskill’s list, and the Missouri-based Mallinckrodt, the company with the highest annual total, was not mentioned in her announcement.

“It’s time to look at the manufacturers and find out what they knew about addiction … (and) what marketing practices did they use to push these drugs,” McCaskill told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday.


“We want to get to the bottom of why all of a sudden opioids have been handed out like candy in this country.”

In 2016, there were more than 236 million opioid prescriptions filled by 183 drug companies, according to IMS. Here’s the percentage of the total market share by prescription for the five companies mentioned by McCaskill:

  • Mylan: 6.7 million scripts or 2.84 percent of the total annual opioid prescriptions for 2016
  • Purdue: 4.8 million scripts or 2 percent
  • Depomed: 878,000 scripts or 0.37 percent
  • Janssen: 74,000 scripts or 0.03 percent
  • Insys: 33,000 scripts or 0.01 percent

The top manufacturer for opioid prescriptions last year was Mallinckrodt, which had more than 43.8 million prescriptions, accounting for approximately 18.6 percent of the total market share. However, the company didn’t receive a letter from McCaskill.

The Missouri-based drug company’s political action committee also donated $2,500 to McCaskill’s campaign coffers in September 2015, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. No data was available for previous years. McCaskill will face reelection in 2018.

“This epidemic is the direct result of a calculated sales and marketing strategy major opioid manufacturers have allegedly pursued over the past 20 years to expand their market share and increase dependency on powerful — and often deadly — painkillers,” McCaskill wrote in the letter to the companies.


“To achieve this goal, manufactures have reportedly sought, among other techniques, to downplay the risk of addiction to their products and encourage physicians to prescribe opioids for all cases of pain and in high doses,” she added.

Mallinckrodt has previously been in the spotlight after agreeing in January to pay $100 million to settle allegations that a subsidiary broke U.S. antitrust law by significantly increasing the price of a multiple sclerosis drug.

Some of the other companies on her list have also received negative attention for misrepresenting or deceptively marketing painkillers. In 2007, Purdue Pharma paid $635 million in fines to settle criminal and civil charges due to the company’s misrepresentation of the addictive qualities of its OxyContin painkiller medication. Three executives of the company pleaded guilty to criminal misbranding.

McCaskill said her probe would focus on the five companies, but she suggested her investigation could expand to include other companies. It’s not immediately clear if the drug company Mallinckrodt from her own state would be on a future list.

Last year, a joint investigation by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found how drugmakers used lobbying and their deep war chests to undermine legislation aimed at curbing opioid prescribing practices.

The sale of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Opioid overdose deaths hit a record high in 2015, claiming the lives of more than 33,000 Americans.

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GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Hypocrite.  How much money does she take from them?  Inquiring minds want to know!

BullyBearish's picture

buying a senator is much cheaper than buying the entire fda...

froze25's picture

This is a serous issue, I don't think there is anyone left that doesn't know someone hooked on this poison. We now have a system that people commit fraud and go on permanent medical disability and then have medicare pick up the tab for their "pain" medication. Its tax subsidized drug addiction with "licensed" drug dealers known as doctors.

Mean while the FDA fights tooth and nail to only allow people that want an effective, medically documented treatment from being available outside of Texas.

Watch this documentary and you will be pissed off if you have ever lost someone to cancer. The mans name is Dr. Burzynski, he basically found a cure for brain cancer and others that uses proteins and does hold the patent for it. But the Feds/FDA under the interstate commerce clause keep it locked up and only available in Texas. He has testified in-front of congress (in the video). Has a ton of documented studies done using his treatment effectively and his patients actively support him because they are still alive to this day because of him (in the video also in-front of congress).

Ramesees's picture

Claire McCaskill is one of the biggest problems in the country today.  She's also a puppet of the RIAA and MPAA.  


Todd Akin really screwed us with his malapropism on national TV.  If only he had said "forcible" rather than "legitimate" this McCaskill leech wouldn't be making Americans' lives worse from the Senate (I'm sure she'd be working to make our lives worse, but not from the Senate).

knukles's picture

This is why pot should be "legalized" as in unregulated.
I had a rotator cuff op and was off the opoids within 2 weeks and using CBD product which took care of the pain.  It fills the gap between aspirin/NSAIDs and Opiates, which Big Pharma tries to cram down to the lower pain levels in part by stopping uses of pot.
Big Pharma are bad people.

Perimetr's picture

Yeah the progressive state of Missouri (pronounced "Misery") will be one of the last states to legalize

with "leaders" like Klaire . . . 

gilhgvc's picture

born and raised in St Louis, got the hell out when I was a teen

jcaz's picture

Yep-  my GF is 2 months post-op on her rotator cuff op and she can't shake the Percs-  hooked like a big ol' trout-  it's ridiculous.

legalize's picture


Yet, the top opioid prescription manufacturer, which is located in McCaskill’s home state in St. Louis, Missouri, is missing from the initial list of companies she’s investigating.


Earn your paycheck, bitch.

Justawhoaman's picture

While I might not disagree with you regarding the legalization of 
natural alternatives (eg "pot"), we MUST stop the seemingly free dissemination of addictive prescriptions by professionals who are motivated more by their profits than standards of "medicine".   We all know how this started but we all must stand up for the abiilty to stop those intent upon societal destruction based upon misconceptions of "healthcare'. 

Croesus's picture

@ froze25:

I take my father to a pain mgmt. clinic; you wouldn't believe how much bureacracy these doctors have to put up with, just to write these kinds of scripts. As crazy as it might sound, it's easier to buy this crap on the streets, than it is to get it legitimately.

He (my Dad) should probably be in more pain than he is...but he gets 10 Mg oxycodone...twice a day - for a broken leg, a torn rotator cuff, a bad back, 2 knees w/o cartiledge. He doesn't even "get anything off it", to use the drug slang...

At the same time, I know a 'doper' who gets 30mg Oxycontin...3x a day...for an ankle break that happened 5 years' ago. This guy's 31 years' old. He gets his script, parties for a day, then sells the rest to other dopers.

I practically had to fight with my Dad's Orthoped to even get him to send him to the pain doctor...and all the dopeheads and government assholes are doing, is making it harder to get, for the people who really need it.

swmnguy's picture

I'm sorry to hear about your Dad.

I've had similar experiences and observations.  

35 or so years ago, I broke my back.  I was on Demerol for a month or so, and then weaned off it with no problems.

Then maybe 25 years ago, I had a bad hand injury requiring surgery.  I was sent home with 3 Demerol tablets, enough for about a day.  When I called back the next day, I was advised to use over-the counter Tylenol.  When I complained that, hey, my hand really hurts from the major surgery I had yesterday---well, the threats to call the cops on me were only very slightly veiled.  I managed that pain through, shall we say, unofficial avenues.

2 years ago, my son was about 17 and had all 4 of his wisdom teeth pulled at once.  The oral surgeon prescribed 20 Percocet tablets for him.  He took 2 and the rest sat in the cabinet until we threw them away.

It's all over the map.  The moralism in our culture really doesn't help.  Opioid addiction is now so pervasive, the drug companies have gotten laxatives approved by the FDA to be sold to Opioid addicts as a group, and it's a market worthy of a lot of TV advertising, apparently.  And yet, when you're legitimately in a lot of pain, you get treated like a criminal by many in the medical profession.  Both my parents are old and have some pain issues, and they're being terribly under-treated.  Of course, they also aren't getting any non-prescription help either, like physical therapy that would restore strength and movement thus reducing the pain.

Our system is a freaking mess.  I hope your Dad is happy despite it all, and Bless you for looking after him.  We're getting to the age where the child becomes the parent to the parent and our society wants nothing to do with that reality.

froze25's picture

My father had a torn cuff as well, years ago. I used to have to drive him to the grocery story because "I am too f__ked up to drive". He stopped taking them after about 2 weeks because he said they something this good can't be good. This was in the late 90's before the epidemic.

The other way this has touched my life is before the wife and I got married both her parents decided to check out on life and become addicts, she moved in with me and her 15 year old bother eventually did as well after I found out that he came home to his mom totally F_cked up and puking at 3pm on a Wednesday. After about 8 years now, her mom is doing much better, after 6 years of hell of us dealing with the shit, her father says he is doing better but he moved down south to sponge off his mother. I was 27 when this all went down, makes you grow up quick and look at things much differently, really lit a fire under my ass to get to work.

swmnguy's picture

Yeah, not good.  Something like a torn cuff, you shouldn't need the heavy stuff for very long.  They do hip replacements and get people going in a week or two nowadays, so it's possible.

People are being doped up instead of treated.  That's the crime of it all.

I had a neighbor who had a degenerative spinal condition.  It was terrible, just watching this poor SOB deteriorate.  Social Security fought him tooth and nail for years before having to classify him as fully disabled.  Which was obvious to any observer from a block away.  But man, was that guy on some serious narcotics.  Holy Buckets.  Now, he needed them.  His doctors had given up after I don't know how many spinal surgeries, and there just wasn't anything the poor dude could do.  It was a genetic defect and just horrible.

But I too know a guy who got kinda hurt a few years back, and was as fine as he'll ever be within 2 months.  He's now gotten himself classified 100% disabled, high as a kite all the time, selling lots of his drugs.  How he gets away with it, when others who are so obviously suffering get a raft of shit for asking for what they need, is beyond me.  As usual, it's honesty that gets one punished.

techpriest's picture

People are being doped up instead of treated. That's the crime of it all.

They promised all of this affordable health, but in reality you only get the pain pill.

Life is cheap to these bastards.

Squid Viscous's picture

broke my upper arm playing rugby in the bronx many years ago, dr. told me to take 2 advil every 4 hours for the pain.

because i was uninsured, 

at least he gave me a subway token, what a guy



bshirley1968's picture

Yeah.  Had a buddy that would go to three "kneck and back pain clinics" a week and complain about his "back pain".  Got a problem......from each one.

Have a pharmacist buddy who saw the same guy 5 one fill a script from 5 different doctors for Lortab.  So not sure where you live, but it ain't that hard to get this crap or there wouldn't have been 236 million scripts handed out in 2016.  You are right, people that need something have to wait and pay out the ass to get it.

FubarNation's picture

KASPER laws have reduced this greatly.  Side effect is now they get their high from substitutes like Heroin.  Another well intended law/program with unintended consequences.

New World Chaos's picture

Maybe it's the intended consequence.  Like the above comment...maybe they want every doper and disability cheat on pharma crack to keep them loyal to the system, but they want the broken-down old white people to be cut off cold turkey.  Then they spend all their money on the CIA's smack, until one day the dealer cuts it with fentanyl.  Depopulation achieved. 

As with everything else, things make a lot more sense if you assume TPTB aren't stupid, they're evil.

GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Croesus: I have come to the opinion that naloxone should not be made available to these dopeheads.

borderdog's picture

Man, the junkies would like that. In a former life I lived in West Virginia and that Appalachian fatalism was something to behold. EMS guys would come along with a shot of naloxone to save a freaking OD'ing junkie, and when they come out of it, they're pissed off because the naloxone killed their buzz. 

Giant Meteor's picture

Yep. Know it well, chapter and verse. It is, in a word, obscene. As you have pointed out, this one hits home on a personal level as well. A lot to "unpackage" in all of this, but your story is somewhat, "the norm."

Black market is full of this trade, and the really sad thing is, many are forced to "participate" as they, for reasons indicated, are UNABLE to get proper help, as everyone today is ASSUMED to be a drug seeker  by default, or forced into PAIN MANAGEMENT, where now, their status as "drug seeker" will be well established and made record of, for anyone who should desire it ..

And yet. as you say, other's get the shit like candy, party on, and sell the excess at a premium, ..

Doctor's have been made afraid, some threatened, some more than threatened for engaging in the habit of practicing medicine. Other's of the more "unscupulous" sort merely figure out how best to profit from it, right up until caught, and of course fucks things up for all other's who need, or benefit from the shit ..

Now the good news is, dying of cancer, stage 4? No worries, top shelf to speed one on their way .. not a bad thing neccessarily, and is a blessing for some, but I merely point out the irony ..

ALSO, the shit is laced with the liver and kidney destroying ingredients, just for good measure ... because after all, THAT lobby needs to be paid as well.

Narcotic's work well to ameliorate pain, as the Chinese have known for thousands of years, and of course, is subject to abuse. Widespread abuse, as past and present history indicates ..

On the other hand, people who are gonna abuse, are gonna abuse, and perhaps, just maybe, attempts should be made to ameliorate the conditions that have turned this shit into an epedemic in the first fucking place ..

In any event, good people, should not be punished, and criminalized for non criminal behaviour.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Yeah that is true.   To get a couple of bad apples in each state the DEA has most primary care doctors too paranoid to prescribe pain medications and I have started to notice the primary care doctors are pushing more of the benzodiazepine patients out too.  


Opioid epidemic?  Lol.  Try to get one from your PCP.    I have to drive 30 miles to get a prescription of fucking tramadol lol.

wren's picture

I'm a single father of four children because my ex-wife fell into meth. Oregon and Mississippi made the required ingredient pseudoephedrine prescription only. Their drug crimes reduced drastically. Other states are hostages to drug company lobbies. These companies make over $600 million annually, and cost the taxpayers billions in drug house clean-ups, treatment centers, incarceration, public defenders, displaced children, etc. Yet they keep on pushing their cold medicine so our meth cooks can keep making more addicts. And as the prisons fill up, meth cooks and dealers are released straight back onto the streets.

The pharmaceutical companies are our biggest drug pushers! They are just as bad as the Mexican Drug Cartels.

aurum4040's picture

Stupid article and ignorant zerohedgies - Mallinkrodt makes suboxone as well. 

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Yeah?    Get an opiate epidemic started, then start selling an opiate for "maintenance" treatment for addicts?  


Is that the smartest business strategy of all?   I think so lol.

e_goldstein's picture

Hey, it worked for the British in China.

At least for awhile.

Saucy-Jack's picture

People do still have free will and can exercise it any time they like.

Don't blame doctors and drug companies for people's addictions.

Time to grow up and take responsiblity.

Pain sucks. Not sure being an addict is worse. 

And the FDA's policy on cancer treatment is a separate issue that I agree with you on.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

I don't think access to pain meds should be restricted just because the occasional addict slips thru and gets narcotics.   Besides.   If we just gave out narcotics freely to addicts in a few years the jails would be empty, and crime will have been cut by 80 percent.   Unlimited opiates to addicts sounds like a reasonable solution :)   the problem eventually solves itself.  

Giant Meteor's picture

Correct, but their ain't near as much profit in that approach, for the reasons you mentioned, biggest among them of course being, the law enforcement industrial prison complex ..

And of course the wealth care, insurance,  drug profiteers themselves ..

Wayseer's picture

That is a great documentary of sorts, he is still around and practicing and helping people as far as I know. They put him through the ringer.

Near the end he mentions DCA, or dichloroacetate.

Just google 'dichloroacetate' to read about this simple molecule.

Do NOT read wikipedia, they are totally wrong as they talk about dichloroacetic acid (poisonous) and not dichloroacetate, dichloroacetate is what Dr. Burzynski mentions.

GunnerySgtHartman's picture

I don't know, the pharmaceutical industry has done a damn good job of buying the FDA.

Arrow4Truth's picture

That's why it's Food... and Drug Administration. They are in charge of drug administration.

Laddie's picture

She got the job because her husband, also a Demonrat, died in office. She is anti-2nd Amendment a total sow.
Which is rather odd, MO went large for Trump, they had a Demonrat Governor who didn't run in 2016 and now have a republican governor, odd that they have a republican and a demonrat as their senators.

There is a DARK CLOUD on the horizon.

Of course they didn't "analyze" that because it would show that it is WHITE WOMEN who are drinking themselves to death, can't have the goyim knowing that...
Binge drinking, alcohol abuse on the rise in older women, study finds
"Whether drinking is increasing among certain racial or ethnic groups isn’t something the researchers analyzed, she said."

But don't worry people of color are doing much, much better in the USSA
Whites’ Mortality Rate Worse Than Thought

“For many Americans, America is starting to fail as a country,” said James Smith, chair in labor markets and demographic research at the Rand Corp., who wasn’t involved in the paper and said he was struck that mortality rates are rising for young working-class adults. “The bad things that are going on in America do not appear to be going on in Western European countries, and that’s a big deal.”

The phenomenon is occurring all across the country, both in urban and rural areas, Ms. Case and Mr. Deaton wrote. And the ills are so deep and complex that it could take many years and many changes in policy to reverse.

Nine Charts That Show How White Women Are Drinking Themselves to Death

More Whites Die Than Are Born in One-Third of States Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2016

America's dying whites: Caucasian death rate now outstrips the birth rate in a third of states
Latino, black and Asian populations grow while white families have less children Daily Mail (London) 30 November 2016

Decline of America's white population accelerating The Hill 12/02/2016

The NRA will fall. It’s inevitable. Just look at the demographics. The Washington Post, October 19, 2015 by Adam Winkler professor at UCLA School of Law

Arnold's picture

Whites need not apply.


All_Your_Base's picture

Laddie - you are confusing AirClaire with Jean Carnahan

cheech_wizard's picture

Unfortunately, she's not up for re-election until 2018. Yes, I know, the Republican Party in Misery is still as stupid as they were in 2012 by allowing open primaries.

Standard Disclaimer: If the Republicans can find someone who is half-way intelligent, she should go down to defeat rather easily.

Either that or write in Cheech_Wizard as the independent candidate (of the American Lobster Party!)


Giant Meteor's picture

It's called, Let's eliminate some competition ..

and the ole, Fuck you, pay me !

MAAAHM's picture

*banjos soflty dueling in the background*

VD's picture

Mallinckrodt will simply make even more money now, breaking down the collusive oligopoly into something closer to monopoly.


these politicians should all be flushed down a giant toilet.

Colonel Klink's picture

All those CONgress critters who represent for those companies she listed should ALL now call for an investigation into Mallinckrodt.  Not THAT would be fun!

NeedleDickTheBugFucker's picture

I guess the $2,500 that Mallinckrodt donated to McCaskill's campaign in 2015 produced the best ROI among their various capex projects.

Implied Violins's picture

That was just the over-the-table donation. She probably also got hooked up for as many drugs as she could ever want.

CoastalCowboy's picture

Don't worry opioid addicts. The Cartels will pump out more than enough fentanyl pills to cover the gap. Just don't end up like Prince.

FoggyWorld's picture

And when people in power wake up, they will find that Fentanyl is a whole lot less expensive than presciption drugs.   At least where I live, the action is on the street corners and in and around malls.

swmnguy's picture

No kidding.  Where the devil is all this Fentanyl coming from?  I've heard it speculated it's being imported from China.  BS.  I don't believe that for a second.  It's being sold out the back door of the pharma companies. People aren't growing it out back.

Nope, the problem is that opioids are over-prescribed, but even worse, under-monitored.  Where's the follow-up care?  I've been prescribed opioids, as have family members, and treatment is all over the map.  Some under-treat pain and act like you're a crazed criminal junkie if you need more help, while others just hand out heavy, heavy narcotics like they're Mike & Ikes, with no follow-up to see if the patient comes out OK.

Bemused Observer's picture

That's right...these drugs are NOT being made at home. They are highly manufactured, and so if they are hitting the streets in large quantities in recognizable forms, they are coming from one of the manufacturers.  They aren't being made by some guy in his kitchen.


So, whose drugs are being leaked? Time for some serious auditing, I'd say. Which one of these companies has a large discrepancy between what was made, and what was sold? Where are these pills first hitting the  (black) market?