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Landmark trial with drug distributors over opioid crisis begins in West Virginia federal court


Cabell County and its county seat, the City of Huntington, say the three co-defendants – McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health – have created a public nuisance with the ongoing opioid epidemic by failing to monitor, deflect and report suspicious prescriptions for controlled substances. Act.

Between 2006 and 2014, the three companies distributed a combined total of over 57 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to the community of around 100,000 people, with AmerisourceBergen sending the most – 36 million doses, according to the complaint. .

Representatives for Cardinal Health declined to comment on CNN on Monday. McKesson Corporation officials 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 to consumers.

“AmerisourceBergen has played no role in working with the DEA to set quotas, nor have we interacted with doctors or patients to recommend particular 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 fulfill our regulatory responsibilities and do our part to address the opioid crisis.” As the distributor of a wide range of prescription drugs to the DEA and to state-approved pharmacies and hospitals, AmerisourceBergen does not determine the supply of drugs it distributes, and we have no impact on the demand for these drugs. “

West Virginia is ‘appropriate’ location for trial, lawyers say

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

In 2018, providers in West Virginia wrote 69.3 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions, the data showed.

The drug overdose death rate in Cabell County is still higher than the state average, according to the federal court complaint document.

“In 2017, 183 people died from drug overdoses in Cabell County – more than any other county in West Virginia,” he says.

Municipal trial lawyers have found it appropriate that this landmark case takes place in West Virginia.

“It is appropriate that the trial take place in West Virginia, which has been the ground zero of the opioid epidemic,” plaintiff attorneys Paul Farrell and Anne McGinness Kearse said in a statement. “AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson have inundated Huntington and Cabell County with tens of millions of opioids, more than this community of 100,000 could demand or endure.”

Landmark trial with drug distributors over opioid crisis begins in West Virginia federal court

More than three years after the complaint was filed in 2017, Huntington Mayor Stephen Williams said his community was holding the “big three” drug distributors to account.

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

Litigation in other state courts pending judgment

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

Federal opioid cases brought by more than 2,800 U.S. cities, towns, counties and others against prescription opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies are amalgamated in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation (NPOL) before the court judge of US District Dan Polster.

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

Litigation in other state courts, such as New York, Tennessee and Ohio, is also on the verge of adjudication.

It will be the first federal case to move forward among thousands of opioid lawsuits in federal opioid litigation, following a 2019 settlement by Summit and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, with Johnson & Johnson, which allowed Johnson & Johnson to avoid a federal lawsuit. .

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