Leading GOP Senator Calls for Probe of Avantor Sales in Mexico
01 Apr 2021

A top Republican lawmaker said he will press the Senate to investigate Avantor Inc. and other companies that sold internationally controlled drug-making chemicals into Mexico’s “unregulated and corrupt market” amid a narcotics epidemic in the U.S.

Texas Senator John Cornyn, who serves on both the Judiciary Committee and the bipartisan Caucus on International Narcotics Control, credited an investigation by Bloomberg Businessweek that exposed how Avantor’s Mexican sales of an essential heroin-making chemical, called acetic anhydride, were easily diverted by narcotics syndicates. Mexican drug cartels are the virtual monopoly suppliers of heroin sold in the U.S., where supply and overdose deaths skyrocketed in the last decade.

In a telephone interview Tuesday from Texas, Cornyn compared Avantor’s conduct to that of Purdue Pharma, the now-bankrupt drug maker that helped ignite and fuel America’s prescription opioid epidemic with the painkiller OxyContin. He said he believed Avantor knew or should have known its products were being tapped for illicit purposes — to make heroin for American street sales.

“This is every bit as bad as over-prescribing OxyContin in terms of the impact on individuals and families,” Cornyn said, adding that he planned to write Attorney General Merrick Garland to determine whether the Justice Department is taking action. The agency has declined to say whether it’s investigating Avantor.

By Cam Simpson, Bloomberg, 31 March 2021

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