(Reuters) – The three largest U.S. drug distributors are dealing with trial on Monday in West Virginia in a lawsuit accusing them of fueling the opioid disaster that has resulted in 500,000 overdose deaths in the US over 20 years.
The swimsuit claims that AmerisourceBergen Corp, McKesson Corp and Cardinal Well being Inc ignored crimson flags that opioids had been being diverted to unlawful channels, flooding the state with a whole lot of tens of millions of extremely addictive drugs.
Huntington, a metropolis in opioid-ravaged West Virginia, and Cabell County are anticipated to hunt greater than $1 billion to treatment the harms brought on by opioids.
The distributors have stated that they can’t be held chargeable for filling orders for medication prescribed by medical doctors. Additionally they have argued the plaintiffs’ authorized principle of public nuisance – extra generally used for harm to public items like roads or water provide – doesn’t apply to opioids.
“AmerisourceBergen is wanting ahead to sharing with the Courtroom the details about our position within the provide chain and our long-standing dedication to fulfilling our regulatory obligations and doing our half to fight the opioid disaster,” AmerisourceBergen stated in an announcement.
McKesson and Cardinal declined to touch upon the case.
The non-jury trial earlier than U.S. District Decide David Faber in Charleston comes after Huntington and Cabell, together with different West Virginia cities and counties, opted out of a proposed $26 billion nationwide settlement with the three distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. That deal has not been finalized.
A verdict may assist lay the groundwork for settlements within the sprawling nationwide litigation over the opioid disaster.
Opioids have resulted within the overdose deaths of almost 500,000 individuals in the US from 1999 to 2019, in line with U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. West Virginia is among the many hardest hit states, recording extra opioid prescriptions and overdose deaths per capita than another in 2018, in line with knowledge from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.
Subsequent week’s trial comes as nationwide opioid litigation picks up momentum after being stalled for a yr by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greater than 3,300 lawsuits by native governments nationwide are pending in opposition to opioid producers, distributors and pharmacies. Many are consolidated earlier than a federal decide in Ohio, who has designated some, together with the Huntington case, for trial in hopes of encouraging a broader settlement.
The primary trial following pandemic delays started earlier this month in a case introduced by California counties in opposition to J&J and different drugmakers. One other is predicted in New York in June.
The distributors almost went to trial as soon as earlier than, in opposition to two Ohio counties in 2019, however finally settled for $215 million.