Federal judge rules in favor of major drug companies in landmark opioid case
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - U.S. District Court Judge David Faber has ruled in favor of major drug companies in a case involving a federal opioid trial in which closing arguments were completed in July 2021.
The City of Huntington and Cabell County filed the lawsuit nearly five years ago against drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.
The plaintiffs were seeking more than $1 billion in damages.
Filed Monday, the ruling reads in part: “The opioid crisis has taken a considerable toll on the citizens of Cabell County and the City of Huntington. And while there is a natural tendency to assign blame in such cases, they must be decided not based on sympathy, but on the facts and the law. In view of the court’s findings and conclusions, the court finds that judgment should be entered in defendants’ favor.”
According to the ruling, causation wasn’t proven during the trial and there was not sufficient evidence of “pharmacy-level diversion” with one exception -- a Barboursville pharmacy that was shut down by law enforcement in 2014.
“Any diversion of prescription opioids that occurred in the City of Huntington or Cabell County after the medicines were distributed to and dispensed by bona fide pharmacies involved criminal actions of third parties over whom defendants had no control, including the persons to whom the medicines were prescribed and those involved in diverting the prescription opioids. The court finds that plaintiffs did not prove that defendants supplied opioids to pharmacies engaged in diversion,” the ruling reads in part.
West Virginia has the nation’s highest fatal opioid overdose rate. In separate, similar lawsuits, the state reached a $37 million settlement with McKesson in 2019, $20 million with Cardinal Health and $16 million with AmerisourceBergen in 2017.
The decision comes just one day before another lawsuit is set to begin with the same defendants, this case filed by other counties and jurisdictions.
We will have more on this developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.
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