W.Va. coun­ties file suit against drug dis­trib­u­tors over opi­oid cri­sis

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Adam Ruben­fire

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.

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