West Virginia local governments secure $400M settlement from opioid distributors
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West Virginia local governments secure $400M settlement from opioid distributors

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Monday announced cities and counties across the state agreed to a $400 million settlement with three opioid distributors. More than 100 local governments accused AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. of fueling the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

West Virginia has a long history of litigation with opioid distributors. The state has brought numerous legal challenges against opioid distributors such as McKinsey, Endo, Johnson & Johnson as well as Teva and Allergan. So far, the state has secured more than $296.5 million from opioid related settlements.

The lawsuit that settled Monday was the result of more than 100 local West Virginia governments’ suits against AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. The opioid distributors attempted to get the case dismissed, on the grounds that the state had already settled similar litigation and a federal court had dismissed two other local government’s suits. The Mass Litigation Panel overseeing the local governments’ suits against those involved in the opioid epidemic denied the three opioid distributors’ motion to dismiss.

Commenting on the settlement, Morrisey said, “I’m happy to see the judicial system work as it should by benefiting West Virginia communities that have been hit hard by opioid abuse.” But, noted Morrisey, “We’re not done yet. We will continue to fight to get the best results for the people of West Virginia and the funding needed to help combat the scourge created by this epidemic.”

In early July, a federal court dismissed a case brought by two local West Virginia governments, the City of Huntington and Cabell County, against the same three opioid distributors. The federal judge found in favor of the opioid distributors, writing that they did not do anything “unreasonable” in distributing controlled substances “to fulfill legally written prescriptions.”