A federal judge ruled Monday that three major drug companies did not cause public nuisance when they distributed millions of opioids to Huntington, West Virginia, and its surrounding county, The Washington Post reported.
Judge David A. Faber of the U.S. District Court in West Virginia sided with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, who argued the prescriptions they shipped were prescribed by licensed doctors and filled by pharmacies.
"The opioid crisis has taken a considerable toll on the citizens of Cabell County and the City of Huntington," Faber's dismissal read. "While there is a natural tendency to assign blame in such cases, they must be decided not based on sympathy, but on the facts and the law."
"The extension of the law of nuisance to cover the marketing and sale of opioids is inconsistent with the history and traditional notions of nuisance," he added.
Faber also wrote the plaintiffs did not prove the companies' conduct was unreasonable or that their conduct resulted in the harm suffered by the communities.
Following the ruling, the defendants cheered the decision. One of the drug companies, McKesson, said it continues "to be deeply concerned about the impact that the opioid crisis is having on families and communities across our nation."
"We're pleased with the court's decision which struck down the notion that the distribution of FDA-approved medications to licensed and registered health care providers in Cabell County and the City of Huntington was a public nuisance," AmerisourceBergen stated.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs said they expressed their sympathies with the county and victims of the broader opioid crisis, floating the possibility of forwarding an appeal to the decision.
"We felt the evidence that emerged from witness statements, company documents, and extensive datasets showed these defendants were responsible for creating and overseeing the infrastructure that flooded West Virginia with opioids," the plaintiffs' attorneys said.
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