Skip to Main Content

The state of California wants to revoke or suspend the wholesale license for a facility run by AmerisourceBergen (ABC), one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributors, for failing to note patterns of unusual sales of opioid painkillers and other controlled substances shipped to different pharmacies over a number of years.

Between 2008 and 2014, the facility based in Sacramento, Calif., sold large quantities of such medicines as Norco, which is a mixture of acetaminophen and hydrocodone; oxycodone; and promethazine with codeine syrup to four different pharmacies, according to a May 30 complaint filed by the state Board of Pharmacy. The complaint was made public on the agency website last week.


At issue is whether the medicines were purchased by the pharmacies for a legitimate medical purpose, given the large volume of sales. For instance, from January to November 2014, the wholesaler sold one pharmacy 450,500 tablets of hydrocodone, an average of 40,954 tablets a month, and also sold 1,491 bottles of bottles of promethazine with codeine syrup, an average of 135.5 bottles a month.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!