MADISON, W.Va. -- Out-of-state companies that supply prescription pain pills to pharmacies across West Virginia plan to fight a blanket request to divulge their drug sales information, the firms' lawyers told a Boone County judge Monday.
The drug distribution companies allegedly shipped excessive amounts of prescription painkillers to "pill mill" pharmacies in Southern West Virginia, according to a lawsuit filed last year by the state attorney general's office under former attorney general Darrell McGraw.
The companies' lawyers said the request for drug sales data is too broad, and could require the firms to disclose sales of more than 250 controlled substances.
"The only thing mentioned in the complaint is hydrocodone," said Al Emch, a lawyer for Jackson Kelly in Charleston who's representing AmerisourceBergen, a Pennsylvania-based drug wholesaler.
Jim Cagle, an outside lawyer working for the attorney general's office, said the state needs the information to identify "pill mill" pharmacies, and additional companies that ship excessive quantities of prescription painkillers to the stores.
"We believe there are other defendants out there that need to be added potentially," he said.
The state also plans to request information about drug wholesalers that ship to pharmacies along the West Virginia border in neighboring states, Cagle said.
"I don't know who they are," he said. "I know some."
Emch suggested that Cagle request the sales data from the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy, which tracks controlled substances.
"If there's a place to go get it, that's it," Emch said.
The pharmacy board typically only releases drug data to law enforcement agencies.
Also at Monday's hearing, aides to Patrick Morrisey, McGraw's successor as attorney general, said his office doesn't want to combine two lawsuits against the drug companies.