Washington State’s Historic Trial Against Three Largest Opioid Distributors Begins Today in Seattle
SEATTLE — The trial of Washington state’s lawsuit against McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., the three largest distributors of prescription opioids in Washington state, will begin today in King County Superior Court in Seattle.
The trial will be held in-person beginning at 9 a.m., but the court also plans to Livestream the proceedings on YouTube. The Livestream is available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn3BAfPxBL1uvNfxKituHxg.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson will deliver the initial remarks to the court this morning. Washington is poised to be the first state to take these three opioid distributors to judgment.
Attorney General Ferguson filed the lawsuit in March of 2019, accusing the three Fortune 15 companies of failing to alert law enforcement when they received suspicious opioid orders, and shipping those orders with little or no investigation, significantly contributing to the supply of opioids and fueling the state’s opioid epidemic.
The companies made billions of dollars while feeding the devastating epidemic, shipping huge amounts of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other prescription opioids into Washington even when they knew or should have known those drugs were likely to be diverted.
Each of these distributors brings in more gross revenue than the annual budget of the entire State of Washington.
Opioid distributors are required to monitor the size and frequency of prescription opioid orders to identify suspicious orders that could be diverted into the illegal drug market. Distributors are required to stop these suspicious shipments and report them to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The opioid crisis devastated Washington communities and shattered families. The epidemic has hit every state — and it hit Washington especially hard. Since 2006, more than 10,800 Washingtonians have died of opioid overdoses.