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Counties should not be suing local businesses

WEST Virginia suffers the second-highest drug overdose rate in the nation, after New Mexico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Mountain State had 4,793 drug overdose deaths from 2001-2012, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office.

The top three drugs involved were alprazolam, diazepam and oxycodone. All are prescription medications. The first two are anti-depressants while the latter is a pain medication.

Abuse of prescription drugs reflects the state's status as the leader in prescriptions per capita, which reflects having the third-highest median age and leading the nation in percentage of people receiving disability checks.

To rein in abuse, the U.S. Attorney's Office has cracked down on doctors who knowingly aid and abet drug abuse.

Such criminal complaints are appropriate.

However, the state Attorney General's Office continues to pursue ill-advised lawsuits filed under former attorney general Darrell McGraw against drug companies, which if successful could make it more difficult for disabled and elderly people to obtain needed medications.

And now Jim Cagle, the outside attorney who is suing on the state's behalf, has convinced both the McDowell County Commission and the Boone County Commission to authorize lawsuits against local pharmacies.

Oh, good grief.

Southern West Virginians have enough of a hard time already keeping a local economy going without county officials trying to shut down the corner drug store.

In Boone's case, the pharmacies smeared were Larry's Drive-in Pharmacy in Madison; Medicine Stop in Uneeda; Meds 2 Go, Meds to Go Express and Alum Creek Pharmacy, all in Alum Creek; and Trivillian's Pharmacy in Kanawha City.

Fortunately, both commissions reconsidered their votes within days and voted to rescind their legal action. 

But damage was done to the reputations of these businesses. When presented with a valid prescription for alprazolam, diazepam or oxycodone, just what is a pharmacist supposed to do? Ignore it?

"We had a fact-based case," Cagle told Eric Eyre of the Gazette.

If so, the facts should be presented to a grand jury so that criminal charges can be made.

Otherwise, government should butt out.


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