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Huntington files lawsuit against 3 opioid distributors

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.  — The City of Huntington has filed a lawsuit in Cabell Circuit Court against a local doctor and three distributors of opioid drugs.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Dr. Gregory Donald Chaney, AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp.

It alleges the defendants have caused and contributed to the opioid epidemic and will continue to cause the city to spend substantial public funds to deal with the consequences of the opioid epidemic.

The city claims the drug problem within its limits has been fueled by the defendants’ “illegal, reckless, and malicious actions” in flooding the state with highly addictive prescription medications.

Cardinal Health Inc. and its competitor, AmerisourceBergen, recently agreed to pay millions to settle a 2012 lawsuit brought by former West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw over accusations they flooded the state with opiates that fed its rampant drug abuse problem.

According to The West Virginia Record, Cardinal Health shipped more pain pills into the state than any other wholesale distributor. AmerisourceBergen was the third.

Current West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit against San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. a year ago, saying at the time that an investigation by his office found that McKesson delivered about 99.5 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to West Virginia between 2007 and 2012.

Chaney, 52, who practiced medicine in Barboursville, recently admitted in federal court that he wrote a fraudulent prescription to illegally obtain more than 100 oxycodone pills from an employee. He faces up to four years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine at his April 3 sentencing.

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

Bryan Chambers, communications director for the city, said Huntington is the first city and among the first group of political subdivisions in West Virginia to file this type of claim.

It has retained Webb on a contingency fee basis, meaning it will not incur any costs unless the case is settled or a judgment is achieved.

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