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West Virginia federal court sues drug dealers over opioid crisis



Cable County and its Huntington County headquarters say the three defendants – McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health – have created public trouble for the ongoing opioid epidemic by failing to monitor, divert and report suspicious orders under control.

Between 2006 and 2014, the three companies distributed a total of more than 57 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to a community of about 100,000 people, with AmerisourceBergen sending the most – 36 million doses, the complaint said.

Cardinal Health declined to comment to CNN on Monday. McKesson Corporation employees did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

AmerisourceBergen said in a statement to CNN that it was not responsible for the mass prescribing of prescription opioids.

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“AmerisourceBergen has no role in working with the DEA to set quotas, nor have we interacted with doctors or patients to recommend certain drugs,” the company said in a statement.

“AmerisourceBergen looks forward to sharing with the Court the facts about our role in the supply chain and our long-standing commitment to fulfilling our regulatory responsibilities and fulfilling our part in the fight against the opioid crisis. As a distributor of a wide range of prescription drugs to the DEA and state-licensed pharmacies and hospitals, AmerisourceBergen does not determine the supply of the drugs it distributes, nor do we influence demand for those drugs. “

West Virginia is a “suitable” place to stand trial, jurors say

West Virginia is among the states with the highest opioid-related overdose mortality rate in the country in 2018, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In 2018, West Virginia providers wrote 69.3 prescriptions for opioids for every 100 people, compared to the U.S. average of 51.4 prescriptions, the data show.

The overdose death rate in Cable County is even higher than the state average, according to a federal court filing document.

“In 2017, 183 people died from drug overdoses in Cable County – more than in any other West Virginia county,” it said.

Municipal bailiffs have found it appropriate to hold this landmark case in West Virginia.

“It is appropriate that the trial continue in West Virginia, which is on the verge of an opioid epidemic,” attorneys Paul Farrell and Ann McGuinness Kears said in a statement. “AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson flooded Huntington and Cable County with tens of millions of opioids, more than that community of 100,000 residents can claim or tolerate.”

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More than three years after the case was first filed in 2017, Huntington Mayor Stephen Williams said his community demanded responsibility from the Big Three drug dealers.

“After facing this crisis for too long, our day in court has finally come,” Williams said in a statement. “We seek justice on behalf of all our residents and the ability to provide the programs, treatment and support they deserve and need.”

Litigation in other state courts approaching trial

From 1999 to 2019, nearly 247,000 people died in the United States from overdoses, including prescription opioids, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Federal opioid cases filed by more than 2,800 U.S. cities, counties, counties and others against prescription manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies have been brought together in the National Prescription Opioid Litigation (NPOL) before U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster.

The lawsuit in the state of California against opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Allergan and Endo began on April 19.

Litigation in other state courts, such as New York, Tennessee and Ohio, is also close to trial.

This will be the first federal case to continue among thousands of opioid cases in the federal opioid dispute, following an agreement in 2019 by the Summit and Cuiahoga County, Ohio, with Johnson & Johnson, which allowed Johnson & Johnson to avoid federal process.

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