McKesson Wants Cherokee Opioid Suit Moved to Federal Court

McKesson Corp. wants out—of Oklahoma state court, that is. The drug distributor filed papers in Oklahoma state court Feb. 27 seeking to get the Cherokee Nation’s lawsuit against it moved to federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Counsel to the Cherokee Nation are calling foul and say the drug distributor, which distributes one-third of all pharmaceuticals used in North America, is playing procedural games.

Counsel for the Cherokee Nation, William Ohlemeyer of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and Richard Fields of Fields PLLC, say McKesson’s true goal is to have the case transferred to a consolidated proceeding in Ohio state court “far from the Cherokee Nation’s home.”

In January, the Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma state court against McKesson, Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., claiming the companies caused and perpetuated the opioid prescription drug abuse epidemic in the Cherokee Nation.

McKesson’s latest move comes after the drug distributor persuaded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to not let the case proceed in tribal court.

“McKesson continues to use every tool they have to delay the inevitable outcome of this case and avoid litigating in Oklahoma which has the highest per capita rate of opioid distribution in the country,” Fields said in a Feb. 28 statement.

“It is time for McKesson and the other opioid distributors and retailers to be held accountable for failing to meet their legal and ethical obligations to restrict opioids to those with legitimate medical needs,” Ohlemeyer added.

Bloomberg Law contacted McKesson for comment but no one from the company responded.

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