June Leffler Published

AG: W. Va. Won’t Opt Into $26 Billion Opioid Settlement


Several state attorneys general are in favor of a $26 billion opioid settlement against three of the nation’s largest drug distributors and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. It would put an end to thousands of lawsuits.

But West Virginia will opt out in hopes of local governments being able to pursue lawsuits on their own, the attorney general said Wednesday.

“West Virginia is a resounding ‘no’ on these agreements and will continue to litigate and negotiate outside the framework of today’s announcement,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

The state previously settled with all three drug distributors (McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health) for a total of more than $70 million. That means the state wouldn’t be eligible for these companies’ portion of the settlement anyway.

The state does have an active case against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

In the settlements with the distributors, the state left local governments out of the mix, so they could pursue these entities on their own.

“We have expressly carved the counties and municipalities out and positioned them and our Office to maximize a recovery that is based upon the severity of the harm imposed on West Virginians,” Morrisey said.

Cabell County and Huntington are near the end of a trial against the three big drug distributors. Closing arguments take place this Tuesday and Wednesday at a federal court in Charleston.

Morrisey also contends that these large settlement packages should be allocated based on the severity of the affected area and not on population alone. He cited those reasons for opting out of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan as it stands.