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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“We’re not fighting for the freedom of the press, we’re fighting to keep the press alive.” – Michael Fuller
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.
Those suits follow a pioneering antitrust claim by HD Media, which sued Google and Facebook in January. HD Media publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Huntington Herald-Dispatch and seven Southern West Virginia weeklies.