CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that West Virginia’s Mass Litigation Panel granted the State’s motion to expedite the trial of the state’s cases against several drug manufacturers.
In addition, the panel denied the defendants’ motion to delay the cases any further. The trial by the state against defendants and manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Endo Health Solutions Inc. is now set to start April 4, 2022.
“This is a big win for the state and a huge step toward gaining justice for all those impacted by the opioid crisis,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The defendants’ alleged actions have caused widespread harm to our state and its citizens. They must be held accountable.”
Previously filed separately in Boone County, the lawsuits will now be heard by the Mass Litigation Panel in Kanawha County.
The state alleges the defendants mischaracterized and failed to disclose the serious risk of addiction, overstated the benefits of chronic opioid therapy and promoted higher dosage amounts without disclosing inherently greater risks and concealed their misconduct.
The case against Johnson & Johnson alleges its subsidiary and co-defendant, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., turned the standard of care on its head by choosing to persuade concerned doctors that the opioids they had been unwilling to prescribe were more effective and safe enough for wide and long-term use, even for treatment of relatively minor pain conditions.
Similarly, the Teva action alleges that sales representatives for that manufacturer marketed the fentanyl-based opioid Actiq to non-oncologists and pain clinic doctors, even though the representatives knew the drug in question was for cancer patients.
Finally, the Attorney General alleges Endo rebranded its widely abused drug Numorphan from the 1960s to keep up with competition decades later. The effort included a new name, Opana, and a new color to minimize memory of a reputation tarnished by widespread abuse and diversion.
The action against Endo also alleges the company misrepresented a later version of Opana ER as tamper resistant.
The lawsuits allege that the manufacturers’ conduct and campaign of misrepresentations led to opioids becoming a common treatment for chronic pain in West Virginia, a reality that fueled substance abuse and the state’s skyrocketing rate of overdose deaths.
The Attorney General alleges the manufacturers’ conduct violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and caused a public nuisance. The lawsuits seeks injunctive and equitable relief.