CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office has announced a $37 million settlement with McKesson Corporation.
That settlement, which Morrisey's office says is believed to be the largest state settlement of its kind against a single pharmaceutical distributor, pushes the total paid in West Virginia’s pursuit of 13 pharmaceutical wholesalers to more than $84 million.
Morrisey's office says the McKesson settlement resolves allegations by the state related to the distribution of controlled substances to West Virginia licensed and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration registered dispensers in the state. It also notes that this settlement does not resolve any allegations brought by counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions within West Virginia.
Morrisey brought the lawsuit along with two departments in Gov. Justice’s administration – Health and Human Resources, and Military Affairs and Public Safety. The plaintiffs intend to use their portions of settlement funds to further the collective fight against drug abuse in West Virginia.
McKesson denies the allegations of plaintiffs’ complaint and any wrongdoing.
“McKesson is committed to working with others to end this national crisis ... and is pleased that the settlement provides funding toward initiatives intended to address the opioid epidemic,” the company said in a statement.
The settlements received approval from the AG's office, the governor and secretaries of the DHHR and DMAPS. All parties agreed to the settlement to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation.
The terms of the settlement require McKesson to pay $14.5 million by within three business days of the case’s dismissal with five additional payments of $4.5 million each year through May 6, 2024.
The AG's office listed previous settlements as well. Those include Cardinal Health ($20 million), AmerisourceBergen ($16 million), H.D. Smith ($3.5 million), Miami-Luken ($2.5 million), Anda Inc. ($1,865,250), The Harvard Drug Group ($1 million), Associated Pharmacies ($850,000), J.M. Smith Corporation ($400,000), KeySource Medical Inc. ($250,000), Quest Pharmaceuticals ($250,000), Top Rx ($200,000) and Masters Pharmaceutical LLC ($200,000).
The national opioid epidemic has prompted lawsuits by state, county and municipal governments accusing drug manufacturers of deceptively marketing opioids and distributors of failing to detect the diversion of the drugs for illicit purposes.
In 2017, McKesson agreed to pay $150 million to resolve a federal investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about its failure to report suspicious orders of addictive painkillers.