City in West Virginia sues 3 drug distributors for role in opioid epidemic

The city of Huntington, W.V., filed suit in Cabell Circuit Court against a local physician, AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., McKesson Corp., and Cardinal Health for their alleged role in contributing to high levels of opioid abuse in the community, according to The Herald-Dispatch.

The suit alleges the drug distributors shipped 423 million pain pills to West Virginia between 2007 and 2012, netting $17 billion in net income. During the same time period, more than 1,700 West Virginians fatally overdosed on hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Gregory Donald Chaney, MD, is also named in the suit for allegedly writing a fraudulent prescription to obtain more than 100 oxycodone pills. Dr. Chaney pled guilty earlier this month for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, according to the Herald-Dispatch.

"The citizens in our city, our region and our state are living a nightmare that was avoidable," said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams in a release. "Profits have been pocketed while our community has been left with the fallout and stigma of the opioid epidemic."

AmerisourceBergen settled with the state for $16 million in December 2016 in another opioid-related lawsuit, according to the The Columbus Dispatch.

In a statement provided to the Dispatch, Cardinal spokeswoman Courtney Tobin said, "We believe that these copycat lawsuits do not advance any of the hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis."

Recently, Mayor Ray Stephanson of Everett, Wash., said he planned on asking the city council to approve a lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals for not taking enough action to curb the illicit sale and use of its opioid painkiller OxyContin.

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