More Than Doubles National Settlement Amount for West Virginia
CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Monday announced his office has reached a $99 million settlement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an opioid drug manufacturer family of companies involved in the ongoing trial in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
This amount is more than double Janssen’s national settlement proposal of $48 million.
“This settlement will provide significant help to those affected the most by the opioid crisis in West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We are still arguing our case in court involving Teva and Allergan and my office is steadfast in holding everyone in the pharmaceutical supply chain accountable for their actions in causing this scourge in West Virginia.
“I’ve always said that at the end of the day, through our office’s opioid work, West Virginia will have the highest per capita settlement results in the nation fighting for our people,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It was absolutely the correct decision to proceed to trial and double the amount of relief we can provide to our citizens.”
According to the settlement, West Virginia – and all its cities and counties – will receive a $99 million lump sum payment, within 45 days of approval by the state’s political subdivisions.
It is intended for the monies from the settlement to be distributed under the terms of the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding. Announced in mid-February, the MOU is an agreement with cities and counties on how future settlement dollars would be used to abate the opioid crisis throughout the state. It contains a comprehensive road map to abate the nuisance caused by the flood of opioids into West Virginia. The state’s counties and cities are in the process of approving the West Virginia First MOU.
The lawsuits, filed separately in 2019 in Boone County Circuit Court, allege the defendants’ concealed misconduct, 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. One lawsuit is against the Janssen family of opioid manufacturers, the second lawsuit is against the Teva and Allergan family of companies.
The Attorney General alleged Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and co-defendant, Johnson & Johnson, 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.
Both lawsuits allege 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 remaining lawsuit involving the Teva and Allergan family of companies seek injunctive and equitable relief.
The Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. lawsuit also names Cephalon, Inc. as a defendant. Both are subsidiaries of Teva Pharmaceuticals Limited.
The Allergan defendants include Allergan Finance, LLC, formerly known as Actavis, Inc., fka Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Allergan Sales LLC; Allergan USA, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Warner Chilcott Company, LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc., fka Watson Pharma, Inc.; Actavis South Atlantic, LLC; Actavis Elizabeth, LLC; Actavis Mid Atlantic, LLC; Actavis Totowa, LLC; Actavis LLC; Actavis Kadian, LLC; Actavis Laboratories UT, Inc., fka Watson Laboratories, Inc.-Salt Lake City and Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc,. fka Watson Laboratories, Inc.– Florida.
The trial against the remaining defendants continues.