Monday, April 27, 2015

West Virginia officials fighting to unseal document to reveal Appalachian pill pipeline data

Drug companies accused of shipping upwards of millions of doses of controlled substances from out of state to Southern West Virginia rogue pharmacies are fighting a request "to unseal a lawsuit complaint that would reveal details about the pain pill shipments from 2007 to 2012," Eric Eyre reports for the Charleston Gazette. The 11 drug distributors "argue that the pill numbers are 'highly confidential' and must be kept secret."

Officials argue that the records should be open to the public, especially since the region has the highest drug overdose rate in the nation, Eyre writes. Delegate Don Perdue (D-Wayne) said, “With this issue, we’re not only called on to be transparent, we’re duty-bound to pursue transparency in a situation where we have numerous deaths, addictions and a tremendous economic impact on the state. The state of West Virginia has every right to provide those statistics to the public that’s paying the bills for what’s happened.”

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, "alleges that the drug wholesalers helped fuel Southern West Virginia’s prescription drug problem by shipping an excessive number of painkillers to pill mill pharmacies in the region," Eyre writes. "In 2013, the drug companies and state government agreed to a protective order to keep certain information confidential. The judge’s order allowed the drug distributors to 'keep highly sensitive business information from falling into the hands of their direct competition,' the companies argued in a court brief filed in late February." (Read more)

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