Ohio's Cardinal Health Promises More to Fight the Opioid Crisis

Nov 6, 2017

George Barrett has been CEO and chairman of Cardinal Health for nine years. His roles are being split and CFO Mike Kaufmann is taking over as CEO.

Ohio’s largest company – which has been named in a number of lawsuits and exposés over the opioid drug crisis – is making changes at the top. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on Cardinal Health.

The Teamsters union is one of the largest investors in Cardinal Health. Citing the opioid crisis, it led an effort heading into this week’s annual meeting to split the top leadership roles of chairman and CEO. But that Chairman and CEO -- George Barrett -- beat them to it. He announced he’ll turn the CEO job over to the company’s long-time chief financial officer, while he remains chairman for another year. In a quarterly earnings call, Barrett addressed the opioid crisis directly, calling it “large, complicated, tragic and personal.”

But he insisted his company is doing its part to control opioids ending up on the black market.

“As a wholesale distributor, we do not manufacture, promote, market or prescribe these drugs. We do however take very seriously our responsibilities to serve our healthcare system. Our anti-diversion systems and controls are substantial, they are well-funded and they are best in class.

Barrett said the company’s plans to invest more in the education of doctors, pharmacists and students are running slightly behind, but they will be fulfilled this year.

Click here for more on Cardinal's response to the Washington Post/60 Minutes stories.