West Virginia lands $37M settlement against pharmaceutical distributor for 'massive' pill dumping

McKesson Corp. was the 13th drug company sued by the state's attorney general.

May 2, 2019, 2:08 PM

The state of West Virginia has landed a $37 million settlement against a pharmaceutical wholesaler that is accused of dumping "massive quantities" of prescription painkillers into communities.

McKesson Corp. settled a lawsuit filed against the company by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Gov. Jim Justice for allegedly supplying thousands of hydrocodone pills to several small towns, including Kermit, West Virginia, with a population of 400.

A congressional report released last year found that McKesson had supplied “massive quantities” to one pharmacy in Kermit that received nearly 10,000 pills a day on average.

McKesson denies the allegations in the lawsuit as well as any wrongdoing.

Although drug makers have settled similar cases for hundreds of millions of dollars, West Virginia officials say they believe this $37 million settlement represents the nation’s largest state settlement against a pharmaceutical distributor.

McKesson Corp. is the 13th pharmaceutical company West Virginia has settled with — bringing the state's settlement total to $84 million.

The McKesson settlement resolves allegations by the state related to the distribution of controlled substances to West Virginia-licensed and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-registered dispensers in the state. It does not resolve any allegations brought by counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions within West Virginia.

The plaintiffs, which also include West Virginia's Departments of Health and Human Resources and Military Affairs and Public Safety, intend to use their portions of settlement funds to further the collective fight against drug abuse in West Virginia.

Terms require McKesson to pay $14.5 million within three business days of the case’s dismissal, followed by five additional payments of $4.5 million per year, through 2024.