Attorney General Andy Beshear announced today that he has defeated his eighth straight motion to dismiss by an opioid manufacturer or distributor in Kentucky’s court system.
Judge James Schrand last week issued an order denying Walgreens’ motion to dismiss in Boone Circuit Court.
Circuit judges in Fayette, Floyd, Hardin, Madison and McCracken counties have denied motions to dismiss by Teva Pharmaceuticals, AmerisourceBergen, Insys Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals respectively. Motions to dismiss were filed in Franklin Circuit Court by Endo Pharmaceuticals and McKesson Corporation; both were denied as well.
“These opioid companies must stand before Kentuckians and be held accountable for what they have done to our families, friends and neighbors,” Beshear said. “Our litigation team has defeated every one of these attempts to shirk responsibility and these corporations will ultimately have to pay to help our communities recover from this opioid epidemic.”
With the nine lawsuits brought by Beshear, Kentucky leads the nation in the number of individual opioid lawsuits filed by an attorney general.
Beshear’s lawsuit alleges that Walgreens, whose 2018 second quarter sales topped $33 billion, failed to use its unique position as a pharmacy and distributor to prevent the flood of opioids into Kentucky.
As a distributor, the company has real-time data regarding the exact amounts of pills, pill types and customer orders for its store and is legally required to report suspicious orders to the DEA. The company has distribution centers close to Kentucky’s borders in Illinois and Ohio.
As a pharmacy, it is legally required to monitor and flag suspicious customer prescriptions, such as individuals traveling long distances to fill prescriptions or doctors prescribing outside the scope of their usual practice.
Beshear said Walgreens knew or should have known of Kentucky’s exceedingly high rate of suspicious opioid shipments and prescriptions and the significant correlating risk of abuse, misuse and diversion of prescription opioids.
In one of the nine lawsuits the defendant, Insys Therapeutics, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has requested the case be stayed pending the outcome of the bankruptcy case.
“They cannot absolve themselves by simply filing for bankruptcy,” Beshear said. “I will chase them through bankruptcy or any other court and make sure they are held accountable for the harm they have caused our Kentucky families.”
The only case still awaiting a ruling on a motion to dismiss involves the complaint against Cardinal Health, whose motion was heard in Jefferson Circuit Court May 23.
Beshear said he will continue moving these cases through the court system to seek justice for the Kentucky communities devastated by these companies’ actions.
Kentuckians can track the progress of each of these opioid cases by visiting ag.ky.gov.