West Virginia Record

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Five more lawsuits filed against drug wholesalers for opioid epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 28, 2018

CHARLESTON – Five more lawsuits have been filed in federal court against drug wholesalers and pharmacies for the opioid epidemic ravaging West Virginia.

Hamlin Mayor David Adkins, West Hamlin Mayor Farris Burton, Mingo County Commission, the town of Eleanor and the town of Man filed lawsuits between March 19 and March 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The lawsuits include AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, West Virginia Board of Pharmacy and various pharmacies.

Between 2007 and 2012, the defendants sold 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia.

The plaintiffs 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.

The opioids were pushed on the plaintiffs for years and the Board of Pharmacy also neglected to protect its citizens, according to the suits.

The unlawful diversion of prescription opiates is a direct and proximate cause of prescription opiate abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality in the plaintiff’s towns and counties, according to the suits.

The opioid epidemic remains an immediate hazard to public health and safety, the complaints state. It is also a public nuisance.

The defendants breached their duties under the Controlled Substance Act, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by Charles R. “Rusty” Webb of The Webb Law Centre; John D. Hurst of Motley Rice; H. Truman Chafin and Letitia N. Chafin of The Chafin Law Firm; 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.

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.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case numbers: 3:18-cv-00456, 2:18-cv-00463, 2:18-cv-00476, 2:18-cv-00477, 2:18-cv-00478

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Organizations in this Story

Morgan & Morgan Motley Rice Motley, Rice LLC Stewart | Bell PLLC The Webb Law Centre PLLC Troy Law Firm U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Charleston Division