A town in West Virginia is initiating various efforts in compensating the costs related to opioid abuse by bringing to justice the illegal drug distributors. Five drug wholesalers were mentioned in a lawsuit filed by the Mingo County Community of Kermit on Tuesday. Cameron Justice, the former owner of a closed pain clinic, was among the people named by the court. In 2010, he had been sentenced for a health care fraud and served thirty months in prison. Issuing illegal prescriptions to unauthorized staff members was also among the charges that sent him behind bars. Truman Chafin, the former state Senator, also championed against the distribution of illegal drugs. He mentioned that “The good people of Kermit deserve justice for the ravages done to them by several multinational corporations for money.”
Several other communities are planning to file a lawsuit relating to the same issue. Nicholas County town of Richwood is one of the affected communities, and their grievances are yet to be brought to justice by Rusty Webb, the Charleston attorney. Webb mentioned that most of the counties and cities in West Virginia had been affected by the distribution of illegal drugs which has been costly to the individual communities. These areas have incurred costs which would have been avoided if the pharmacists and doctors did not allow the distributions to take place.
In the early weeks of January, the City of Huntington filed a related lawsuit involving dumping of illegal drugs in the area. The McDowell County Commission sued the drug distributors who took part in the illegal business in December. The state is determined to bring to justice people who defy the law, and it has been prominent in settling cases related to illicit drug wholesalers.
McKesson Corporation, a wholesaler, based in San Francisco was announced by the U.S Justice Department in January to have settled similar lawsuits after paying an amount of $150 million. The allegations were associated with the failure of the wholesalers to determine and create awareness on suspicious orders of prescription pain drugs distributed by the pharmacies. The reports from federal prosecutors were that most of the West Virginia Pharmacies had placed suspicious orders. A federal investigation on McKesson was carried out in Grant County where it was settled for an amount of $2 million.
Other drug wholesalers were brought to justice following an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Close to 1,728 people were overdosed by oxycodone and hydrocodone pills that were shipped to West Virginia for six years. According to the newspaper, approximately 9 million pain pills was received over a two-year period by a single pharmacy in Kermit from the drug distributors.
West Virginia had the highest number of deaths relating to the drug overdose as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the reports, the rates of deaths reported in 2015 was 41.4 per 100, 000 of the total population. It showed an increase of drug overdose deaths by approximately 17 percent from the previous year. The second in the listings was New Hampshire with 3.43 per 100, 000 of the total population. Kentucky and Ohio followed the same trend having a rate of 29.9 per 100, 000 population.
Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.