MADISON – Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen have agreed to settle claims against them in the state’s pain pill lawsuit for a total of $36 million.
The two drug distributors denied any wrongdoing in settling their claims. Cardinal Health agreed to pay $20 million, while AmerisourceBergen agreed to pay $16 million.
Last month, Boone Circuit Judge William Thompson disclosed proposed settlements with the drug distributors, but no other information was disclosed. The drug distributors were directed to provide details by Jan. 9.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by former Attorney General Darrell McGraw against Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Miami-Luken and other smaller drug companies.
Miami-Luken was the first to settle in the lawsuit earlier this year. It reached a $2.5 million settlement with the AG’s office. It also denied any allegation of liability as part of the agreement. Other smaller wholesalers also settled with the AG’s office, too.
Cardinal Health shipped more pain pills into the state than any other wholesale distributor. AmerisourceBergen was the third.
Earlier this year, a debate sparked about whether or not to unseal court records in the case. AmerisourceBergen asked for the request to unseal them to be denied. In May, Thompson agreed to unseal them. The Charleston Gazette-Mail made the request to unseal the records.
In his order, Thompson stated that there was a longstanding right of public and press access to legal proceedings and documents and that that outweighed the drug wholesaler’s argument that the sealed documents included confidential business and sales data.
Thompson also stated that the documents did not include drug sales prices or profits and that it only has speculative value to the drug companies’ competitors. He also gave the companies 14 days to appeal the order to the W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals.
Thompson also ruled that, if the drug wholesalers agreed to settle the lawsuit within the next two weeks, they could keep the amount of pills shipped sealed.
On April 19, AmerisourceBergen asked Thompson to deny the request to unseal the records, arguing that the information the newspaper wanted was available from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey inherited the suit when he took office in January 2013. He recused himself from the case in January, following a state Lawyer Disciplinary Board investigation into his past ties to the drug companies.
Morrisey previously lobbied for a group that represents most of the drug wholesalers in the lawsuit and while the LDB concluded he did not violate any ethics rules, it suggested he step aside from the suit to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Morrisey assigned the case to Chief Operating Officer Anthony Martin and Deputy Attorney General Vaughn Sizemore.
AmerisourceBergen is represented by A.L. Emch and Robert O. Passmore of Jackson Kelly; and Meredith S. Auten and Eric W. Sitarchuk of Morgan Lewis & Bockius.
Boone Circuit Court case number: 12-C-141