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West Virginia Counties Sue Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Over six years from 2007 to 2012, drug distributors sent almost 40 million doses of opioids to retailers in Cabell County, West Virginia. Cabell County has around 96,000 residents. That would mean more than 400 pills for every adult and child in the county.

Now Cabell and another West Virginia county are suing at least ten drug distributors, including McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen as well as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and other retailers, claiming the companies violated federal drug control laws.

(Lack of) Drug Control

Federal drug laws require distribution companies to report suspicious orders of narcotics to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Suspicious orders can include anything from unusually large or unusually frequent orders to those that deviate from a normal pattern. Companies that fail to report such orders can face fines, and their DEA registrations can be revoked. According to the Washington Post, "at least 13 of the companies knew or should have known that hundreds of millions of pills were ending up on the black market. But the companies ignored warnings and continued to send the drugs, sometimes after being alerted by the DEA or their own employees."

The lawsuits claim the drug companies violated West Virginia law and created public health hazards by shipping massive quantities of opioids into the state. That state law was originally passed to address drug houses and run-down buildings deemed a public nuisance and posing a safety hazard to the community.

Just Say No

These lawsuits are far from the only litigation involving the opioid crisis. West Virginia's attorney general's office has already settled lawsuits filed against opioid distributors for violating state consumer protection laws. And several of the drug manufacturers have already paid civil fines to settle civil lawsuits filed by the federal government.

If you're considering filing a lawsuit related to opiate addiction or injury, contact an experienced attorney first.

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