West Virginia Sues Big Pharma For 'Flooding' State With Prescription Pills

By McCarton Ackerman 01/13/16

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the latest government official to sue Big Pharma.


West Virginia is the latest state to fight back against Big Pharma by filing a lawsuit against one of the largest pharmaceutical drug wholesalers in the country, accusing them of “flooding” the state with prescription pills.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the lawsuit last week against San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., claiming the state shirked consumer protection laws and the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. His statement also revealed that the investigation conducted by his office showed that McKesson delivered 99.5 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to West Virginia between 2007 and 2012. Morrisey accused the company of failing to detect or report suspicious drug orders into the state.

“This failure is one cause of many for the state’s prescription drug overdose rate, decreased worker productivity and the wasteful expenditure of precious state resources,” he said. McKesson declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said in a statement that “we share the view that the substance abuse epidemic is a serious problem and we will continue to work with our supply chain partners in support of our prevention efforts.”

Last August, Oregon received $1.1 million from pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics over their aggressive marketing throughout the state of a fentanyl-based narcotic pain reliever. The state itself received $533,000 and the other $567,000 went to a non-profit organization to help prevent opioid abuse.

Not all lawsuits against Big Pharma have been successful. In California, Orange and Santa Clara counties sued five pharmaceutical companies last year and accused them of knowingly hiding the risks of their products to doctors. The lawsuit by the two counties was put on hold indefinitely last September by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Moss, who ruled that the FDA needed to complete a pending inquiry into the overall safety and efficacy of painkillers.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.