Epidemiologist: Drug supply fueled WVa crisis over poverty | Health, Med. & Fitness

By LEAH WILLINGHAM Associated Press

CHARLESTON, WV (AP) — The influx of prescription opioids into West Virginia communities was the main driver of the state’s drug crisis, more than poverty, job loss and other economic stressors. , an epidemiologist testified Tuesday in the ongoing trial against three major pharmaceutical companies.

“Economic conditions were the firewood, but the opioid suppliers were the gasoline that was poured directly onto that firewood,” said Dr. Katherine Keyes, director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program at Columbia University.

Keyes was questioned on the stand all Tuesday in the state trial against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., AbbVie Inc.’s Allergan and their family of companies.

The West Virginia trial began last week and is expected to last up to two months. State and local governments, Native American tribes, labor unions, hospitals and other entities have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic in state and federal courts.

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Most allege that the industry created a public nuisance in a crisis that has been linked to the deaths of 500,000 Americans in the past two decades.

A trial was opened Monday in demand for opioid epidemic in Florida against the drugstore chain Walgreens, which state officials accuse of prioritizing profits over health by improperly dispensing millions of powerful painkillers that have caused tens of thousands of deaths. Closing arguments are expected this week. for an opioid-related trial in Washington.

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