A southern West Virginia town has joined other communities in seeking to recoup the costs of dealing with opioid abuse.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the McDowell County town of Welch filed a lawsuit Monday against several out-of-state drug distributors.
The lawsuit claims the companies delivered huge amounts of prescription pain pills that created a “public nuisance” in the town of 2,200. Welch is the county seat of McDowell County, which has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.
The McDowell County Commission sued drug distributors in December. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the cities of Huntington and Kermit.
An investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail found drug wholesalers shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia in six years.
Welch alleges that the drug wholesalers didn’t do enough to stop prescription painkillers from getting into the wrong hands.
“The (companies) received compensation in the form of millions of dollars per year for shipping volumes of drugs well beyond what a reasonable company would expect,” Welch’s lawyers wrote.
Welch has had to pay for more emergency services and drug treatment programs in addition to dealing with an increase in litter, crime, housing code violations and clogged water and sewer lines, according to the lawsuit.
The newspaper reports that drug companies have denied wrongdoing, saying the drugs were shipped to licensed pharmacies, which were filling prescriptions from doctors.