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Town of Kermit, population 400, sues five pharmaceutical giants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The town of Kermit, Mingo County, has filed a lawsuit against five of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical drug wholesalers and a local pharmacy owner, claiming that they flooded the town with millions of prescription pills in violation of the law.

The suit filed by Kermit, which registered a population of 406 in the 2010 Census, names San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation, Pennsylvania-based AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Ohio-based Cardinal health, Ohio-based Miami-Luken, South Carolina-based AD Smith Corporation and a former Kermit pharmacy, Sav-Rite Pharmacy.

Town of Kermit officials posted for this photo after filing the lawsuit Tuesday.

“The lawsuit seeks to recovery damages for the economic burden shouldered by Kermit, which like many cities and counties throughout West Virginia, has been decimated by the opioid epidemic,” the town’s announcement about the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges the pharmaceutical companies shipped more than 423 million doses to West Virginia and its 1.8 million people between 2007 and 2012, earning revenues of more than $17 billion.

Other communities in West Virginia also are lining up to sue over the opioid epidemic that has affected the state. The town of Richwood has hired lawyer Rusty Webb, who also serves as a commentator on WCHS radio, to file a lawsuit against drug wholesalers.

Richwood’s lawsuit names three distributors of opioid drugs — AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corporation.

It alleges that they “have caused and contributed to the opioid epidemic and will continue to cause the Town of Richwood to disburse substantial sums of public funds to deal with the consequences of the opioid epidemic that was fueled by Defendants’ illegal, reckless, and malicious actions in flooding the state with highly addictive prescription medications without regard for the adverse consequences to the Town of Richwood or its residents.”

Other West Virginia communities suing or strongly considering lawsuits over the opioid epidemic include the City of Huntington and Mercer County.

Kermit’s lawsuit is being filed by former state Senator Truman Chafin and his wife, Letitia Neese Chafin, along with Mark Troy of the Troy Law Firm and Harry Bell Jr. of the Bell Law Firm, plus lawyers John Yanchunis and James Young of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group.

“The good people of Kermit deserve justice for the ravages done to them by several multinational corporations for money,” Truman Chafin stated in an announcement about the lawsuit.





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