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W.Va. counties, cities seek larger share of potential opioid settlement

By Eric Eyre, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A growing number of towns, cities and counties in West Virginia are opting out of any potential settlement with the drug companies that they’re suing in a landmark opioid case that’s scheduled to go to trial in two weeks.

The local governments, especially those hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, are dissatisfied with the share of settlement dollars that they stand to receive, if a national deal is reached.

Instead, they’re gambling they’ll collect more cash from a settlement in state court, where they’re hoping their cases will be returned.

One such town is Kermit, in Mingo County. In three years, out-of-state drug distributors shipped more than 12 million prescription opioid painkillers to the tiny town of 400 people. Nearly everyone in Kermit knows someone who has died of a drug overdose.

Yet Kermit would receive $2,175 for every billion dollars the drug companies agree to pay to resolve the national case, under a proposed settlement formula posted online. Los Angeles would get $12 million, while Chicago would collect $8 million for each billion of settlement funds. …

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