More lawsuits filed against manufacturers for opioid epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 9, 2019

MOUNDSVILLE — Thirteen lawsuits were filed against Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma for the opioid epidemic ravaging the state.

The lawsuits were filed by Roane County Commission, the city of Spencer, Jackson County Commission, the city of Ripley, the town of Ravenswood, Wood County Commission, the city of Williamstown, Wirt County Commission, the town of Elizabeth, Pleasants County Commission, the city of St. Marys, Ritchie County Commission and the town of Harrisville in May in Marshall Circuit Court.

The municipalities claim the defendants were aware that opioids were addictive and debilitating when used for chronic non-cancer pain. 

Despite knowing this, the defendants "sought to create a false perception of the safety and efficacy of opioids" in doctors and the general public to encourage them to use opioids for longer periods of time for more problems.

By 2011, West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, with 36.3 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the suits. The state was near the top or was number one in the nation for several years in overdose deaths. During the past several years, the defendants have flooded the state with opioids, totaling approximately 433 pain pills per resident in the state.

"With an increase in opioid use, a concomitant increase in drug-related crime activity has been seen within the Plaintiff Counties and Cities as well," the complaints state. "The costs of the opioid epidemic impact all aspects of the criminal justice system, from policing the issue to incarcerating those who prey on addicts."

The plaintiffs claim the defendants knew that their marketing of chronic opioid therapy was false, unfounded and dangerous and would harm the plaintiffs and their residents.

"The Defendants' acts are willful and wanton," the complaints state.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by Kevin C. Harris and Eric J. Holmes of the Law Offices of Harris & Holmes; Lisa F. Ford; Robert L. White; and Joseph Cappelli, Marc J. Bern and Carmen De Gisi of Marc J. Bern & Partners.

The defendants in the suits are Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, the Purdue Frederick Company, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Janseen Pharmaceutica, Endo Health Solutions, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Actavis, Watson Laboratories, Actavis Pharma, Insys Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt, Specgx, Fruth Pharmacy, Rite Aid of West Virginia, Rite Aid of Maryland, Walgreen, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, CVS Indiana, Kroger Limited Partnership II, Wal-mart Stores East, Miami-Luken, Mark Radcliffe, Mark Ross, Jeff Waugh, Carol DeBord, Amanda Bias Hayes, Doug Powers and Patty Carnes.

Marshall Circuit Court Case numbers: 19-C-96, 19-C-97, 19-C-98, 19-C-99, 19-C-100, 19-C-101, 19-C-102, 19-C-103, 19-C-104, 19-C-105, 19-C-106, 19-C-107, 19-C-108

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