Federal judge rules in favor of big pharma in landmark opioid trial

CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) — U.S. District Court Judge David Faber has ruled in favor of big pharma in a case involving a federal opioid lawsuit in which closing arguments were completed in July 2021.

The City of Huntington and Cabell County filed a lawsuit nearly five years ago against drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.

The plaintiffs sought more than a billion dollars in damages.

Filed on Monday, the ruling reads in part: “The opioid crisis has taken a significant toll on the citizens of Cabell County and the City of Huntington. And while there is a natural tendency to assign blame in such cases, they should be decided not on the basis of sympathy, but on facts and the law. In view of the court’s findings and conclusions, the court considers that judgment should be rendered in favor of the defendants. »

According to the ruling, causation was not proven during the trial and there was insufficient evidence of “pharmacy-level misappropriation”, with one exception – a Barboursville pharmacy that was closed by law enforcement in 2014.

“Any diversion of prescription opioids that occurred in the City of Huntington or Cabell County after the drugs were distributed and dispensed by bona fide pharmacies involved third-party criminal actions over which the defendants did not “had no control, including the people to whom the drugs were prescribed and those involved in the diversion of prescription opioids. The court finds that the plaintiffs have failed to prove that the defendants supplied opioids to the pharmacies engaged in the diversion” , indicates in part the decision.

West Virginia has the highest fatal opioid overdose rate in the nation. In similar, separate lawsuits, the state settled $37 million with McKesson in 2019, $20 million with Cardinal Health, and $16 million with AmerisourceBergen in 2017.

The decision comes just a day before another trial is due to begin with the same defendants, this case filed by other counties and jurisdictions.

We’ll have more on this developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.

For the previous cover:

Federal lawsuit against opioid distributors in West Virginia begins

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