Drug epidemic: 1 small-town mayor takes on pill distributors


WELCH, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia mayor has joined the ranks of at least 11 communities suing some of the biggest U.S. drug distributors, bidding to make them pay for the damage done by addiction in a state already ravaged by the decades-long decline of coal.

Welch Mayor Reba Honacker says she’d like to establish a local rehabilitation center with any money her Appalachian city of 1,900 might gain from the lawsuit.

Her suit in state court is part of a growing push by local communities that lawyers say could ultimately rival the national scope of litigation against tobacco companies over smoking.

So far, 11 opioid distributors have paid about $47 million but admitted no wrongdoing in settling claims by West Virginia’s attorney general they improperly flooded the state with addictive pills.

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