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Oxycodone pain pills. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Rochester Drug Cooperative became the first drug distributor to receive criminal charges relating to its role in the opioid epidemic, the Department of Justice announced yesterday.

The bottom line: The company "prioritized attracting business, catering to existing customers, and making money above all else," the complaint reads.

Details: Rochester agreed to a $20 million settlement with the Southern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and admitted to an outlined statement of facts regarding its conduct.

  • 2 Rochester executives were also charged yesterday and face possible jail time. One has pleaded guilty.

By the numbers: This penalty pales in comparison with how much Rochester made distributing opioids to pharmacies, including ones that exhibited red flags suggesting they were dispensing opioids illicitly at the height of the opioid epidemic.

  • Rochester's oxycodone distribution grew from 4.7 million tablets in 2012 to 42.2 million in 2016.
  • Its fentanyl distribution grew from about 63,500 dosages in 2012 to about 2.4 million in 2015, and 1.3 million in 2016.
  • Rochester made about $1.2 billion from sales of controlled substances between 2012 and 2016.
  • It then turned around and paid dividends to some of its largest pharmacy purchasers, which were also shareholders. In 2015, it paid a $10.6 million dividend to its largest customer — a pharmacy that was one of the nation's largest dispensers of Subsys, a highly-addictive fentanyl spray.

Go deeper ... Exclusive: Lawsuit says Johnson & Johnson was opioid "kingpin"

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.