Two county commissions sue Purdue Pharma, others for opioid epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 15, 2018

CHARLESTON – Two more lawsuits have been filed against Purdue Pharma and others for the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the state.

Barbour County Commission and Taylor County Commission filed their lawsuits in their respective circuit courts earlier this week.

Between 2007 and 2012, the defendants sold 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia—5.1 million of which was to Barbour County and 3.1 million of which was to Taylor County, according to the suits.

The counties claim the defendants also distributed high quantities of several other scheduled narcotics to pharmacies throughout the state, including formulations of fentanyl and suboxone, which have quickly became centerpieces in the opioid epidemic.

“This is more than a marginal amount of excess medication,” the complaints state. “This is the concoction and proliferation of a plan by Manufacturer Defendants and Distributors to maximize profits by manipulating medical judgment of prescribers and saturate towns too small to fight back with a dangerous product that would affect the entire community.”

The counties claim for years, these opioids were pushed on Taylor and Barbour counties.

The Board of Pharmacy also neglected to protect its citizens, according to the suits.

The counties are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a restraining order to prevent the defendants from continuing to violate state laws. They are represented by H. Truman Chafin and Letitia N. Chafin of The Chafin Law Firm; Hunter B. Mullens and Catherine A. Mullens of Mullens & Mullens; Mark E. Troy of Troy Law Firm; Harry F. Bell Jr. of The Bell Law Firm; and John Yanchunis, Patrick Barthle and James D. Young of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group.

The defendants in the suits are Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.;  The Purdue Frederick Company Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd;  Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.; Cephalon Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals  Inc.; Ortho-Mcneil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Noramco Inc.;  Mallinckrodt PLC; Mallinckrodt LLC; Mallinckrodt Enterprises LLC;  Johnson & Johnson; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals  Inc.; Insys Therapeutics Inc.; Allergan PLC; Actavis PLC; Actavis Inc.;  Actavis LLC; Actavis Pharma Inc.; Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Watson  Pharma Inc.; Watson Laboratories Inc.; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal  Health 110 LLC; AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation; Miami-Luken Inc.;  Rite Aid of Maryland Inc., doing business as Rite Aid Mid-Atlantic  Customer Support Center Inc.; and West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

In January, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster was assigned to oversee the opioid lawsuits that were filed in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, as there have been nearly 200 filed against the drug wholesalers in at least five states. Dozens of West Virginia counties and cities have filed lawsuits against the drug companies, most of which were filed in federal court.

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