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.
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.
The city of Huntington and Cabell County argued that the defendants — AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. — became culpable when 127.9 million opiate doses were sent to the county from 2006-14. When the number of shipped doses decreased around 2012, users were made to turn to illicit opiate drugs, like heroin, they said.
A Charleston courtroom morphed into a chemistry class Tuesday as a witness in a landmark opioid crisis trial broke down opioids to their molecules and explained how opioid use disorder takes hold of drug users.
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