West Virginia Counties Are Suing Opioid Distributors. Here’s What Happens Next, According To Steve Ruby West Virginia
The opioid crisis has taken hold throughout America, and West Virginia (and other Appalachian states) have been hit hard. Recently, the city of Huntington and Cabell County in West Virginia has filed a lawsuit against certain drug distributors in the area, blaming them for the opioid epidemic that has taken over their communities. Here, experienced opioid attorney Steve Ruby explains the basics of the trial, and what is likely to happen next.
First, Steve Ruby says it’s key to understand the laws surrounding prescription drug use as mandated by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Act states that drug manufacturers must monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report any and all suspicious prescription drug orders – specifically, orders for opiates, according to Steve Ruby. The city of Huntington and Cabell County are alleging that three major opiate manufacturers in West Virginia – Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen Corp. – refused to uphold the law, resulting in widespread misuse of opiates throughout the area. Steve Ruby states that these types of lawsuits typically only go to trial when a settlement agreement cannot be reached.
Steve Ruby explains that the trial will work to discover whether these “Big Three” pharmaceutical distribution companies actually violated the laws of the Controlled Substances Act. The trial was postponed due to COVID-19 shutdowns, but a final settlement meeting is expected to pick back up before the end of September, with a trial beginning in late October. Steve Ruby says that at this point, it’s likely that the trial will move forward as scheduled.
The opioid epidemic has hit West Virginia particularly hard, according to Steve Ruby. From 2006 to 2016, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration data shows that people in the state were prescribed over 835 million prescription pain pills. Of the 835 million pain pills that were prescribed and distributed, 65 million were distributed to people in Cabell County. This equals nearly 100 pills per resident of Cabell County. Millions of more pills were distributed in surrounding counties. Steve Ruby says that it’s important to consider that many people in these counties took no pills at all, meaning that many residents had hundreds (even thousands) of prescription painkillers, either for personal use or for sale to others.
While the lawsuit filed by the city of Huntington and Cabell county names dozens of prescription drug distribution companies, only the “Big Three” have been charged thus far. The counties offered to settle with the companies for $1.25 billion, but the companies have thus far refused, necessitating the need to go to trial.