By ERIC EYRE
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge on Thursday blocked the Cabell County Commission and local governments across the United States from releasing information that details the number of prescription opioids that drug firms shipped to West Virginia and other states.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department had teamed up with drug companies to keep the pill numbers under wraps. HD Media, which includes the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Herald-Dispatch, had asked a judge to allow the Cabell County Commission, which is suing the drug firms, to release the pill shipping data. The Washington Post put in a similar request with two counties in Ohio.
In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster noted that counties suing drug manufacturers and distributors had agreed to a “protective order” that prohibited the public release of the pain-pill data. He concluded there was “good cause” to keep the protective order, saying the DEA database of pill shipments contains information that’s sensitive to drug distributors and pharmacies. The same data also is “crucial to law enforcement efforts,” the judge wrote.
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