The Huntington law firm of GREENE, KETCHUM, FARRELL, BAILEY & TWEEL, LLP is investigating and litigating lawsuits related to allegations that pharmaceutical distributors deliberately failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids, potentially playing a central role in creating an opioid addiction epidemic throughout the United States. The litigation is necessary to address the diversion of prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes, to eliminate the hazard to public health and safety and to abate the public nuisance caused by the opioid epidemic in West Virginia and across the Country.

In the 1990’s, pain was introduced as the “fifth vital sign” (Lanser P, 2001) which eventually led to massive distributions of prescription opioids in the 2000’s and the diversion of prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes. Now, approximately 78 Americans die every day due to prescription drug overdose, equating to one American dying approximately every 20 minutes. Additionally, in our country a baby is born addicted to opioids approximately every 25 minutes (Tolia, 2015).

West Virginia has the highest national state-by-state drug overdose death rate of 35.5 per 100,000 (age adjusted), with a large margin over the next closest state of New Mexico having a rate of 27.3, while the national average is 14.7 (MMWR, January 1, 2016). A February 13, 2017 analysis by the West Virginia Health Statistics Center shows at least 818 people in the state died of drug overdoses in 2016 — four times the number that occurred in 2001 and a nearly 13 percent increase over the 725 who died of overdoses in 2015.

Prescription opioid addiction is also closely tied to illegal drug use. According to a study published by the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, approximately 75 percent of patients in treatment for heroin addiction started their opioid use with prescription medications such as OxyContin.

GREENE, KETCHUM, FARRELL, BAILEY & TWEEL, LLP, on behalf of multiple West Virginia County Commissions, filed some of the nation’s first lawsuits against the wholesale distributors of opioids to hold them accountable for failing to monitor, detect, investigate and report suspicious orders of opioids which led to the diversion of prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes. The Complaint, crafted by partner, Paul Farrell, Jr., has become a road map for similar lawsuits across the country. Paul Farrell, Jr’s foresight put Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel LLP at the front of the fight against opioid epidemic and helped lead to Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel LLP’s representation of government agencies in many other states such as Kentucky and Ohio (including Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio which was a centerpiece of Sam Quinones’ book “Dreamland.”)

For over 60 years, Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, LLP has been committed to fighting for justice for their clients and has been a highly esteemed pillar in the community. Our attorneys have successfully tried numerous civil cases to verdict in state and federal courts and have been directly involved in trying mass litigation cases on a national level. The firm’s skilled advocacy has returned millions of dollars in verdicts for their clients in both trial settings and settlements.

Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel LLP’s attorneys have been recognized by legal organizations for excellence. They have also served on numerous legal and educational boards in West Virginia, including West Virginia State Bar Board of Governors; the West Virginia Ethics Commission; West Virginia Law Institute’s Governing Council; West Virginia Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission; West Virginia Association for Justice Board of Governors; Marshall University Foundation, Inc.; The Society of Yeager Scholars at Marshall University; the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia, Inc. (selects higher education’s “Professor of the Year”); the Marshall University Graduate School Advisory Board; Hospice of Huntington; and the Cabell County American Cancer Society.

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