Fighting opiate battle in court


GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Board of County Commissioners announced Thursday the county is taking a step forward to hold wholesale drug distributors responsible for “dumping millions of dollars worth of prescription opiates” into the community by filing a public nuisance lawsuit.

The county has filed suit against what it calls the nation’s three largest wholesale drug distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation. The county claims with their combined revenues, the companies control 80 percent of the market for prescription opioids with combined annual revenues of $400 billion and profits in the billions.

“Opioid addiction is the biggest issue facing our community and families,” said Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren. “My office is working diligently to remove drug dealers from our county and offer rehabilitation options for those suffering from opioid addiction. However, this lawsuit will hold distributors accountable for their irresponsibility in this epidemic.”

“The opioid epidemic has torn apart families and the community,” said Gallia Commissioner Harold Montgomery. “While Individuals are responsible for their own actions, companies are accountable for the responsible distribution of their products and for not putting individuals into harm’s way. And it was the wholesale distributors that failed in their legal obligation to notify the Drug Enforcement Agency of suspicious orders, even as the number of pills flowing into our county rose and rose.”

Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, in 1970 Congress designed a system to control the volume of the opioid pills being distributed throughout the US. Congress let a select group of wholesalers the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to halt suspicious orders and control opioids to avoid illegal usage. Gallia officials feel drug distributors have failed to do this and the county is paying the price.

Gallia commissioners say they are working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical wholesale distributors accountable for failing to uphold their responsibilities under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.

According to information provided by Gallia officials, around one in seven people who received a refill or had a second opioid prescription authorized were still on opioids a year later.

The county has hired firms Baron and Bud; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Refferty and Proctor; Greene, Ketchum, Bailey, Farrell and Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler; McHugh Fuller Law Group; Oths, Heiser, Miller, Waigand and Clagg; and Seif and McNamee.

Reportedly these firms will be paid contingent to whether the commissioner’s lawsuit is successful.

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From left to right, Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, Gallia Commissioners Brent Saunders, David Smith, Harold Montgomery and Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren release a public statement regarding the county’s intention to file a law suit against wholesale opioid distributors as part of its response to the ever growing drug problem in the region.
http://www.mydailytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2017/09/web1_OpioidLawSuit.jpgFrom left to right, Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, Gallia Commissioners Brent Saunders, David Smith, Harold Montgomery and Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren release a public statement regarding the county’s intention to file a law suit against wholesale opioid distributors as part of its response to the ever growing drug problem in the region. Dean Wright | Daily Tribune
County files suit against opioid drug distributors

Staff Report