CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Opening arguments took place Monday in West Virginia in a lawsuit accusing several drugmakers of misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids.
The bench trial started in Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., Allergan and their family of companies.
The defendants are accused of engaging in strategic campaigns to deceive prescribers, which led to opioids becoming a common treatment for chronic pain and fueled substance abuse in West Virginia. The state has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the state Consumer Credit and Protection Act and accuses the companies of causing a public nuisance.
The trial in Kanawha County Circuit Court is expected to take up to two months.
Morrisey announced last week that the state had reached a $26 million settlement with another defendant, Endo Health Solutions Inc.
In February, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson finalized nationwide settlements over their role in the opioid addiction crisis, clearing the way for $26 billion to flow to nearly every state and local government in the U.S. West Virginia previously reached settlements in separate lawsuits, including $37 million with distributor McKesson in 2019, and $20 million with Cardinal Health and $16 million with AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. in 2017.
In Charleston, a separate bench trial wrapped up last summer in federal court in a lawsuit accusing AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson of fueling the opioid crisis in Cabell County and the city of Huntington. That judge has not indicated when he’ll rule.