First pharmaceutical executive sentenced to jail for selling opioids in the United States

Fentanyl, a highly addictive substance

Photo: AGNES BUN/AFP/Getty Images

Laurence Doud, who for years ran the Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC) company, is the The first pharmaceutical company manager to be criminally convicted for his role in the opioid crisis in the United States.

After being convicted by a jury last year, 79-year-old Doud was sentenced today by a New York judge to 27 months in jail, three years probation and a $100,000 fine. “Laurence Doud cared more about his own payroll than his responsibility as DRC CEO to prevent dangerous opioids from reaching pharmacies, drug dealers and people with addiction problems,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

According to Williams, this ruling holds the executive accountable for supplying huge amounts of oxycodone and fentanyl to pharmacies it knew were distributing those substances illegally. Prosecutors explained during the process that these sales took place over years despite the fact that the company's own services They had warned of the problem due to suspicious orders from those establishments.

107,000 Americans died in 2021 from drug overdoses

In addition to violating drug laws, Doud was convicted of defrauding federal authorities by failing to notify them that those pharmacies were illegally diverting narcotics. Under Doud's leadership, RDC became one of the ten largest pharmaceutical distributors in the United States and the fourth largest in the New York area, with annual sales in excess of $1 billion.

The company, also a defendant in this case, settled with the government and paid a $20 million fine, while another senior official, William Pietruszewski, pleaded guilty and testified in Doud's trial.

According to official data, more than 107,000 Americans died in 2021 from drug overdoses and it is estimated that more than 80,000 of those cases involved at least one opioid. Between 1999 and 2019, an estimated half a million people died in the United States from opioid overdoses. In recent years, numerous pharmaceutical companies have been sued for their role in this crisis and have paid billions of dollars in compensation.

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