A Superior Court judge in the U.S. state of Washington rejected a request from three major opioid distributors to drop a lawsuit against them, Washington Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson said Friday.
Judge Marshall Ferguson of King County Superior Court in Washington upheld the lawsuit filed by the state AG against McKessen Corp, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation for fueling the current opioid epidemic in the state.
“These opioid distributors won’t avoid public accountability so easily,” said AG Ferguson. “Those responsible for this epidemic must face accountability.”
In March 2019, Ferguson sued San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health Inc. and Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania-based AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation for illegally shipping huge amounts of oxycodone, fentanyl and other painkillers into Washington, which could be diverted to illegal drug markets or addicts.
He accused the three companies of making billions of U.S. dollars illegally from opioid transactions and feeding the state’s opioid epidemic, and sought damages from the drug dealers and civil penalties to remediate the effects of the opioid epidemic, including treatment and education programs.
AG Ferguson said more than 8,000 Washington residents died from opioid overdoses between 2006 and 2017, and over 112 million daily doses of opioids, enough for a 16-day supply for each Washington resident, were dispensed in the state in 2011, the year of peak sales.
Washington is the 10th U.S. state to sue at least one of the drug distributors over opioid shipment or production.