West Virginia gets landmark settlement against the “Big 3″ opioid distributors
Settlement money will be used to stop the harmful effects of the opioid crisis
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) -
West Virginia counties and cities took three big pharma companies to court.
The 54 counties and cities across West Virginia have been fighting Amerisource, Cardinal Health, and McKesson in regards to opioid crisis.
According to officials, the $400 million settlement means West Virginia will receive more settlement dollars per capita than any other state.
Bob Fitzsimmons was one of the co-lead attorneys for the case representing 54 counties. There are 55 counties, but Cabell County couldn’t participate because they had already taken the companies to court.
He said the crisis has been going on for about 25 years, but took a turn in 2016 when other drugs like heroin and fentanyl came into the market. It’s his opinion that the “Big 3″ companies didn’t properly control the delivery of opioids to the area.
“They knew about the millions and millions of pills being dumped on our cities, knew about the deaths, knew about the addictions, and really didn’t take proper responsibility to address that.”
Fitzsimmons says they were able to reach a resolution with the distributors.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was happy with the settlement and looks forward to what it will accomplish.
“This is obviously terrific news and it builds upon all the work that we’ve all been engaged in over the last few years.”
According to Fitzsimmons, about 75% of the money will go towards methods of stopping addiction and addiction use disorders and about 25% will be used for counties and cities. He said it’s important to make sure the money is being spent for it’s proper purpose.
“It’s going to help the people that have been afflicted by this epidemic of opioids in the state.”
To do this, all parties needed to agree on where the money would go and how it would be used. He said negotiating among themselves may have been one of the hardest parts.
“...54 counties, hundreds of cities, and the attorney general. We’re all these lawyers in a room. We put this memorandum together and that was done some time ago. And it’s a good agreement.”
He said it will be controlled by 6 geographic areas and 11 directors.
Morrisey says the first priority is a needs assessment. Stating, “Only after you have a needs assessment can you truly determine what’s in place in the specific regions in West Virginia.”
They are both optimistic for West Virginia’s Future.
Morrisey said, “It can’t bring back the lost lives, and we recognize that but it does bring some measure of accountability. And even more importantly it’s going to help dramatically reduce the chance that we’ll see a repeat of this into the future.”
“If we can just save one child or one family member. I think that’s well worth what we did,” reflected Fitzsimmons.
According to Fitzsimmons, they are still waiting to get final approval from all parties to finalize the agreement, but he and Morrisey say that they don’t see anyone having issues with the terms.
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