W.Va. Lawsuit Against Opioid Makers Set To Start

Prescription opioids like OxyContin flooded Missouri during the past six years.

Opening arguments are set in a lawsuit in West Virginia accusing several drugmakers of misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids.

The bench trial starts Monday in Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., Allergan and their family of companies.

The defendants are accused of engaging in strategic campaigns to deceive prescribers which led to opioids becoming a common treatment for chronic pain and fueled substance abuse in West Virginia. The state has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the state Consumer Credit and Protection Act and accuses the companies of causing a public nuisance.

The trial in Kanawha County Circuit Court is expected to take up to two months.

Morrisey announced last week that the state had reached a $26 million settlement with another defendant, Endo Health Solutions Inc. In similar lawsuits, the state reached a $37 million settlement with distributor McKesson Corp. in 2019, and $20 million with Cardinal Health Inc. and $16 million with AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. in 2017.