Opinion

Jury should decide in West Virginia’s drug lawsuit

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Boone County circuit judge made the right call earlier this month when he refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing 11 out-of-state drug companies of contributing to West Virginia’s massive prescription drug abuse problem.

Judge William Thompson’s ruling means that the case continues on its way to a jury of West Virginia citizens who will determine whether the drug companies acted responsibly in making powerful pain pills available to the state’s residents. That’s a fair question for them to decide, since West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, with a majority of those deaths attributed to prescription drugs.

The lawsuit against the drug wholesalers was filed in 2012 by former Attorney General Darrell McGraw on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. The two state agencies allege that the companies distributed an excessive number of painkillers to “pill mill” pharmacies in West Virginia and also failed to report suspicious orders to government authorities, according to a report by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

 Thompson’s ruling rejected the companies’ contention that the state didn’t have sufficient grounds to sue them and that they weren’t responsible for the painkillers sold by pharmacies in the state.

Just doing some relatively simple math would suggest that something was out of kilter in terms of the amount of drugs being shipped to the state…

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