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WV judge orders pain-pill court records unsealed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Boone County judge has issued an order to unseal court records that out-of-state drug companies have sought to keep secret for more than a year.

The court records disclose allegations about the number of prescription painkillers the companies have shipped to West Virginia pharmacies in specific towns and regions of the state.

Circuit Judge William “Will” Thompson’s order follows a Charleston Gazette-Mail request to open court filings in a state lawsuit against 10 of the nation’s largest prescription drug distributors.

“The court finds that there exists a longstanding right of public and press access to legal proceedings and documents,” Thompson wrote in his order filed Friday.

The drug wholesale companies argued that the complaint includes “confidential business and sensitive sales data” that must be shielded from the public and kept out of their competitors’ hands — including their co-defendants in the ongoing lawsuit.

Thompson concluded Friday that the wholesalers’ business interests in keeping the court records sealed did not outweigh the public’s right to see the court filings…

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