Employees at drug distributor sent parody song ‘pillbillies’ to one another amid opioid crisis: report
Employees at a major drug company shared an email containing lyrics to a parody song about “pillbillies” and drug-addicted Americans traveling to Florida during the height of the opioid crisis in 2011.
The Washington Post reported Friday that employees at AmerisourceBergen, a drug distributor involved in lawsuits alleging its involvement in the opioid addiction crisis raging across America, shared the email that jokingly referred to Florida as a land of lax enforcement where opioids were available in abundance.
The emails were uncovered by attorneys for the plaintiffs in a massive federal suit filed in Cleveland against the company and others involved in the opioid supply chain. The lawyers allege that AmerisourceBergen’s attorneys withheld the emails containing the songs as well as others during the lawsuit’s discovery process, and that they only saw the emails after two Ohio counties settled with the company.
“Well now its time to say Howdy to Jed and all his kin. And they would like to thank Rick Scott fer kindly inviting them,” read the lyrics, referring to then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) and set to the tune of the “Beverly Hillbillies.”
“They’re all invited back again to this locality/ To have a heapin helpin of Florida hospitality/ Pill Mills that is. Buy some pills. Take a load home. Y’all come back now, y’hear?” the lyrics continue, according to the Post.
The opioid addiction crisis in the U.S. continues to ravage cities and counties around the country, and in 2018 resulted in the deaths of more than 67,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 16,000 people died of prescription opioid overdoses in 2011, the year the email was sent, according to the Post.
A spokesperson for the company, which is one of the largest distributors of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills in the country, defended the emails in a statement to the Post and claimed that the emails containing the songs had been released previously in other cases around the country.
The emails, Gabe Weissman said, were “simply a demonstration of the fact that part of AmerisourceBergen’s comprehensive monitoring program includes tracking for potential illegal activity and prescription drug diversion trends via the Internet.”
“Through this process our diversion investigators often discover and share content,” he added.