W.Va. counties file suit against drug distributors over opioid crisis
County officials in West Virginia have filed a federal lawsuit against drug distributors, saying lax monitoring exacerbated the region’s opioid epidemic.
Cabell and Kanawha counties have sued Cardinal Health, Amerisource-Bergen Corp. and McKesson Corp., along with other local distributors and the nation’s largest consumer pharmacies.
The federal government finalized a $150 million settlement with McKesson in January over its alleged failure to detect and report suspicious controlled substance orders. Cardinal paid $20 million to the state of West Virginia earlier that month in a similar suit. Most of the nation’s largest distributors and drugstore chains have been sued for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic at some point.
The federal government and the state of West Virginia collected damages, but that money hasn’t trickled down to local officials who are on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, said attorney Paul Farrell Jr. of Huntington, W. Va.based Greene Ketchum Farrell, Bailey & Tweel.
Farrell and a team of attorneys plan to file five other suits for counties across southern West Virginia, where coal mining communities have been hit hard by opioid addiction, he said.
Cardinal spokeswoman Corey Kerr said the company plans to defend itself “vigorously against these allegations.”
She said the Dublin, Ohio-based distributor maintains a sophisticated anti- diversion program that includes advanced technology and investigators who monitor its supply chain for suspicious activity.