Drug wholesaler cites rehab clinics, pharmacies for possible fault for opioid crisis

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 10, 2017

HUNTINGTON – Cardinal Health has filed a notice regarding potential non-party fault in Huntington’s lawsuit against it and other drug wholesalers alleging they caused the opioid epidemic.

Cardinal Health filed the notice on July 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, naming 1,949 businesses as “wholly or partially” at fault for diverting opioids for illegal use. 

Among the businesses listed is Lily’s Place — an infant rehabilitation clinic — dozens of pharmacies, hundreds of physicians, several assisted living centers, Huntington Work Release Center, Hospice of Huntington, Cammack Children’s Center, Marshall Health, St. Mary’s Medical Center, several mail-in pharmacies, the mayor of Huntington, the police department, the fire department, county commissions, the West Virginia State Police, dozens of individuals who were arrested for drug-related crimes and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Cardinal health claims the City of Huntington’s amended complaint fails to provide factual allegations to support its generic, conclusory, group-pled allegations that target wholesale drug distributors with no identifying detail whatsoever regarding all the other participants in the closed legal system relating to controlled substances.

The city of Huntington is suing Cardinal Health and other wholesale drug distributors, alleging that the companies’ prescription painkiller shipments helped fuel a heroin epidemic that has ravaged the town with a record number of fatal overdoses.

In its notice, Cardinal Health claimed it would remove names from the list after the city identified which pharmacies; physicians; convicted drug dealers; pharmaceutical manufactures; non-party drug distributors; health insurers; and federal, state and local government entities did not break the law.

In a footnote in the filing, Cardinal Health claimed that it does not believe or assert that any of its customer pharmacies engaged in any diversion of controlled substance, but cannot say that it is not possible that some may have done so without Cardinal Health’s knowledge.

“If and when Plaintiff admits that any pharmacy did not place suspicious orders, Cardinal Health will consider amending this Notice,” the footnote continues. “In addition to the pharmacies within the City listed below, Cardinal Health reserves the right to supplement this Notice with pharmacies outside of the City, if it is revealed through discovery that such pharmacies dispensed opioid medications to residents of the City and Plaintiff alleges that such activity is the basis for damages alleged against Cardinal Health.”

In January, Cardinal Health paid $20 million to the state to settle its part in a lawsuit that alleged it had shipped excessive amounts of powerful painkillers to the state. With other drug distributors, the total settlement of the lawsuit was more than $40 million.

Multiple counties and cities across the state have filed lawsuits against Cardinal, along with other drug distributors, since January.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:17-cv-01362

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City of Huntington U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Huntington Division

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