With the rest of the country taking a chance to catch its breath after the announcement of a $26 billion settlement with some opioid firms, Huntington and Cabell County are standing firm as they prepare for closing arguments with opioid distributors this week.
Paul Farrell Jr., Cabell County’s lawyer, argued the drug companies never pulled the fire alarm despite numerous warnings about suspicious orders of oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Last week, Cabell County attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr. pointed to an internal memo that said a small pharmacy could order 350,000 hydrocodone or oxycodone pills a year, a medium pharmacy, 760,000, and a large pharmacy over 1 million without triggering a suspicious-order alert.
There were 24 doctors who were among the top 1% of opioid prescribers in Cabell County over two decades, but it is the outliers of those outliers who set a dreadful foundation that led to the current opioid crisis, experts say.
Distributors accused by Cabell County and Huntington of fueling the opioid crisis presented their first witness at a months-long trial Friday, a pain doctor whose testimony in effect strengthened the plaintiffs’ theory of there being a gateway between prescription opiates and heroin use.
A forensic economist testified Tuesday that a 15-year plan to abate the opioid crisis in Cabell County and the city of Huntington would cost $2.54 billion for governments whose combined annual budgets amount to less than $87 million.
Defendant opioid firms at the center of a trial in which they are accused of fueling the opioid crisis in Huntington and Cabell County expect to wrap up a month ahead of schedule.
As Huntington and Cabell County’s opioid trial against drug distributors nears its end, the defendants in the eighth week of the trial presented witnesses in an attempt to raze the foundation the plaintiffs built over seven weeks.
After only five days of testimony, lawyers representing the country’s three largest drug distributors rested their defense in the landmark opioid trial taking place in federal court in West Virginia.
At the questioning of Cabell County attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr., Courtwright said there have been four strong opioid epidemics in the United States: the opium and morphine epidemic in the 19th century; a heroin epidemic in the late 1940s and again in the late 1960s; and one created with significant increase in prescription opioids in the late 1990s.