Drug overdose deaths in the United States declined 5.1% in 2018, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson on Thursday announced that he has filed a lawsuit against three major opioid distributors for their part in the opioid crisis.

Wilson said this lawsuit is the second phase of his deliberate approach to hold additional companies accountable for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

Wilson’s lawsuit accuses Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen of violating the S.C. Unfair Trade Practices Act and creating a public nuisance. The suit seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties.

Wilson previously filed suit in 2017 against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., and the Purdue Frederick Company.

“This lawsuit seeks to hold these companies responsible for their part in the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson. “These distributors flooded the State with dangerously addictive drugs, devastating families across South Carolina.”

According to a news release, Wilson said opioid distributors purchase the drugs from manufacturers and sell and deliver them to pharmacies. The attorney general said these distributors have the “legal duty of ensuring that all prescription medications are distributed properly and are not diverted for illegal use.” The law requires the companies to monitor, investigate, report and refuse to ship suspicious orders of opioids, but Wilson said the defendants made almost no effort to do so until very recently.

“Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to the opioid epidemic.  But this lawsuit against Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen is an important step in reversing the damage they have done to the public health and safety of our State. While we recognize that many South Carolinians have a legitimate need for opioid treatments, these companies did far more than merely distribute a legal product.  Their failure to report and stop suspicious shipments of opioids into South Carolina resulted in tragic consequences to our communities,” Attorney General Wilson said in the news release.

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