A trial started Tuesday in the case against a former drug company executive, Laurence Doud of the distribution company Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc., who is facing unprecedented drug trafficking charges that position him as helping to fuel the deadly opioid epidemic, Courthouse News Service reports. Doud is accused of illegally selling oxycodone and fentanyl to pharmacies, directing employees to ignore red flags pointing to shady practices, and lying to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about his company’s drug safety controls. Doud, 78, faces one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S..
The charges marked the first criminal drug distribution charge against a pharmaceutical wholesaler and its executives, federal prosecutors said in 2019 when the charges were unsealed. According to DEA policies, distributors must have internal protocols to identify suspicious orders from pharmacies — those of unusual quantities or frequencies, for example — and report them to the agency. Employees claimed to have those controls in place. Under Doud’s watch, they were illusory, prosecutors allege. “Those policies? They weren’t worth the paper they were printed on,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Burnett.