Fayette Co. joins two other counties suing drug distributors

CHARLESTON, WV (WVRECORD.COM) – Three more lawsuits have been filed against the drug distributors for flooding West Virginia with opioid painkillers and causing the drug epidemic in the state.

 The Wayne County Commission, the Boone County Commission and the Fayette County Commission filed lawsuits March 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The lawsuits list Rite Aid of Maryland Inc.; CVS Indiana LLC; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health Inc.; SAJ Distributors; Wal-mart Stores East LP; AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation; Top RX LLC; Kroger Limited Partnership I; Kroger Limited Partnership II; H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug CO.; Anda Inc.; Generics Bidco I LLC; BellCo Drug Corp.; and Qualitest Pharmaceuticals Inc. as defendants.

The commissions claim the opioid epidemic is a temporary public nuisance and remains unabated.

The unlawful diversion of prescription opiates is a direct and proximate cause of the prescription opiate abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality in the three counties, according to the suits.

The defendants sold more than $8 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to Wayne County pharmacies between 2007; more than $14 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to Fayette County pharmacies between 2007; and more than $13 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to Boone County pharmacies between 2007 and 2012, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the sheer volume of prescription opioids distributed to pharmacies in Wayne, Fayette and Boone counties is excessive for the medical need of the community and facially suspicious.

“Some red flags are so obvious that no one who engages in the legitimate distribution of controlled substances can reasonably claim ignorance of them,” one complaint states.

The defendants unlawfully filled suspicious orders of unusual size — orders that deviated substantially from a normal pattern and/or orders of unusual frequency in the counties, according to the suits.

The counties are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Bert Ketchum and Paul T. Farrell Jr. of Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel; and Michael A. Woelfel of Woelfel & Woelfel.

Many other cities, towns and counties have filed lawsuits against pharmacies, doctors and the drug distributors in the last few months. The state settled its lawsuit with the distributors earlier this year for $47 million.

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