Out-of-State Pharmaceutical Companies Refuse to Turn Over Information That Could Reveal Whether They Supply Pill Mills

pills-1-569522-m.jpgIn the past, this blog has discussed West Virginia’s significant problem with drug abuse, including the abundance of pill mills. Pill mill operations consist of doctors who will write prescriptions – and the pharmacists that accept the prescriptions — for certain drugs like Oxycontin, for anyone with the money to pay them, whether or not the recipient has an injury that needs treatment. Federal and state officials have been making a special effort to crack down on pill mills.

Recently, pharmaceutical companies from out of state vowed to fight the state’s request to release drug sale information. Some of these companies are believed to supply pills to pharmacies that function as part of pill mills — specifically pill mill pharmacies in southern West Virginia. The companies complained that the request for drug sales is too broad and could require them to release information about hundreds of controlled substances. However, an attorney working with the state attorney general’s office responded that West Virginia needed the information to identify the “pill mill” pharmacies, as well as companies that ship far greater quantities of pharmaceuticals to stores than necessary.

In 2012, then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed two lawsuits against out-of-state pharmaceutical firms, claiming a connection with pill mills in southern West Virginia. The first was against Cardinal Health in Dublin, Ohio, and the second was against AmerisourceBergen and a dozen other drug wholesale companies. Current Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has chosen not to consolidate the two lawsuits because Morrisey had to recuse himself from one, his wife having been a lobbyist for that company in the past.

Drug dependency can destroy families and individual lives — if not the dependency itself, then the heavy prison sentences that can follow. Since the 1980s, both the federal government and many state governments took a “tough on crime” approach and applied heavy prison sentences to crimes of drug possession and drug dealing. While the Sixth Amendment requires that every criminal suspect be allowed to have an attorney, too many criminal suspects do not hire an experienced West Virginia criminal defense attorney and end up accepting whatever plea bargain the prosecutor offers, even if the suspect was completely innocent. Criminal suspects without quality representation might also go to trial and try to fight the charges with a very weak case — only to end up with a sentence that is disproportionately greater than the crime.

A criminal suspect deserves to have an experienced attorney working on his or her side, someone who can spend time with the case, explain the charges, and work to get the suspect the best outcome possible — whether that means accepting a plea bargain or taking the case to trial. A criminal suspect deserves the best possible, since it is his or her life on the line.

The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.

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