Should addicted patients be able to sue pharmacies?

March 6, 2015

West Virginia Supreme Court justices are debating a variation of that question involving doctors who negligently prescribed painkillers and some of the pharmacies that filled the scripts.

West Virginia Supreme Court justices are debating a variation of that question involving doctors who negligently prescribed painkillers and some of the pharmacies that filled the scripts.

Attorneys on both sides of the issue recently presented oral arguments at the West Virginia University College of Law. The case involves several Mingo County, West Virginia residents who became addicted to prescribed pain medication.

Pharmacy faces negligence lawsuit after painkiller overdose

The attorney representing the residents, Jim Cagle, argued that a jury should decide whether the so-called pill mill doctors and the pharmacies that enabled them should be held liable.

However, attorney Michael Fisher argued that the pharmacies should not be liable because they were not criminally charged or disciplined, and because the residents’ injuries were caused by illegal behaviors such as doctor shopping and buying drugs illegally.

According to an article in the Charleston Daily Mail, in a two-year period that began in 2010, eight civil lawsuits involving more than 30 people were filed in Mingo County Circuit Court against doctors and pharmacists accused of contributing to painkiller addictions.

 

Lawsuits were filed against Tug Valley Pharmacy, B&K Pharmacy doing business as Family Pharmacy, Strosnider Drug Store doing business as Sav-Rite Pharmacy, the Mountain Medical Center, as well as against individual doctors and pharmacists.

One of the pharmacists, James P. Wooley, of Louisa, Ky., owner of Strosnider Drug Store, lost his pharmaceutical license and was sentenced to six months in federal prison in 2012 for illegal controlled substances activities. Wooley and other pharmacists at Strosnider Drug Store were accused of illegally dispensing controlled substances.

One of the doctors, Diane E. Shafer, in 2012 lost her medical license and was sentenced to six months in prison for misusing her DEA registration number and prescribing narcotics to people she didn’t examine.

The residents allege that the pharmacies contributed to the pill mills operated by the doctors by negligently or recklessly dispensing controlled substances. A ruling on whether the case should proceed to a jury has not yet been issued.

See also:

Is pharmacy, prescriber lock-in the antidote for Rx abuse?