CHARLESTON, W.Va. – County commissions in Cabell and Kanawha counties filed separate lawsuits Thursday against prescription drug distributors, alleging the companies contributed to West Virginia’s drug epidemic.
The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Both name pharmaceutical companies AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, as well as retail chains like Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Kroger.
The Cabell County Commission said nine companies sold 40 million doses of pain medication from 2007 to 2012, while the Kanawha County Commission said 16 companies sold 66 million doses during the same period.
The commissions are not the first bodies to file suit connected to the drug epidemic; the McDowell County Commission, City of Huntington and Town of Kermit have moved to seek legal action since December.
The lawsuit mentions reports from the Charleston Gazette-Mail regarding the number of pills shipped to West Virginia, and an investigation from The Washington Post on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s slow action against drug distributors.
Attorney Paul Farrell Jr. of Greene Ketchum Farrell, Bailey & Tweel in Huntington filed the lawsuits. He said he expects at least five other county commissions to take similar legal action.