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Opioid shippers, Justice Department oppose release of West Virginia prescription painkiller numbers


HD Media

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and the nation’s largest drug distributors are objecting to a West Virginia newspaper chain’s request for federal records that show prescription opioid shipments to every pharmacy in the state.

The Justice Department filed a motion this week in federal court, seeking to block the Cabell County Commission from releasing the opioid sales data to HD Media, which owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Herald-Dispatch and other newspapers across Southern West Virginia. HD Media requested the opioid information from the Cabell commission in a public records request last week.

Justice Department lawyers have asked U.S District Judge Dan Polster to issue an order that would prohibit the release of the opioid numbers. The government’s motion — signed by lawyers with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern Ohio — argues that the prescription opioid sales information could be used for “press stories, commercial advantage or even illegal drug trafficking.”

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