Charles Town joins municipalities suing drug manufacturers, retailers for opioid epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 23, 2019

MARTINSBURG — The city of Charles Town is suing drug manufacturers and distributors it claims played a part in the opioid epidemic in the state.

"This case arises from the worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history — the misuse, abuse and over-prescription of opioids," the complaint states.

The complaint states that the number of opioid deaths more than doubled between 1999 and 2009 from 8,000 to 20,000. The death toll hit 33,000 in 2015 and was up to 45,000 between September 2016 and September 2017.

In a span of six years from 2007 until 2012, the defendants showered West Virginia with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills. During that time, 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers. The unregulated shipments amounted to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.

The complaint states that used needles are scattered across the community's parks, sidewalks and streets, which has resulted in environmental contamination of the public and private property of the community.

"The defendants' actions have also resulted in significant increases in crime and related criminal justice expenses," the complaint states.

Charles Town is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. It is represented by Stephen G. Skinner, Andrew C. Skinner, Laura C. Davis and Macon Bryan Epps Gray of Skinner Law Firm. 

The majority of the cases filed involving opioids against drug manufacturers and distributors are in federal court, but a handful remains in state court.

Last year the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report stating the economic cost of the opioid drug epidemic in 2015 was $504 billion, more than six times larger than the most recent estimated costs, according to the council, according to a previous story in The West Virginia Record.

AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., BellCo Health Corp., BellCo Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., Cardinal Health Pharmacy Services, Harvard Drug Group, Parmed Pharmaceuticals, McKesson Corp., Masters Pharmaceuticals, Masters Pharmaceutical LLC, Purdue Pharma LP, Purdue Pharma Inc., The Purdue Frederick Co. Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Anda Inc., Anda Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon Inc., Actavis, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc., Noramco Inc., Endo Health Solutions Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Par Pharmaceutical Inc., Par Pharmaceutical Cos. Inc., Mallinckrodt PLC, Mallinckrodt LLC, Specgx LLC, Insys Therapeutics Inc., Rite Aid Corp., The Kroger Co., Walmart Pharmacy, GenetCo, American Sales Co., Smith Drug Co. Top RX, West Ward Pharmaceutical, Amneal, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Giant Food Stores and Walgreen Co. were all named as defendants in the suit.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 3:19-cv-00040

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Skinner Law U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Martinsburg Division

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