Two West Virginia counties with drug overdose rates well above the national average filed lawsuits against wholesale pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies in federal court alleging they allowed millions of dangerous prescription drugs into the area, fueling the prescription drug epidemic.
Kanawha and Cabell counties allege in separate lawsuits filed this month that companies such as Walgreens, CVS and McKesson sold 106 million doses of the powerful painkillers between 2007 and 2012 in both counties combined. Cabell has a population of 96,000, which translates to 400 pills per resident, the complaint states.
Both lawsuits claim the companies’ actions are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and West Virginia’s Whole Sale Drug Distribution Licensing Act of 1991, which require pharmacies to inform state and federal authorities if they sense any suspicious activity that could suggest misuse, such as unusually large orders or greater frequency of filled prescriptions.
The West Virginia attorney general’s office has already settled with several of the companies named in the lawsuits over allegations involving the companies’ distributed controlled substances in the state.
The lawsuits are an attempt by the counties to combat the prescription drug epidemic in the U.S. by making drug companies that distribute the drugs be more accountable for their role in the epidemic. Powerful painkillers called opioids are the most abused prescription drug in the country.