- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

MADISON, W.Va. (AP) - Prescription drug distributors being sued by the state can have information about pill shipments kept secret if they agree to settle the lawsuit within the next two weeks, a Boone County judge ruled.

Circuit Judge William Thompson made the ruling Friday.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (http://bit.ly/1rBlhSS) reports the judge granted the newspaper’s request to unseal court records about prescription pain pill shipments to West Virginia. Thompson gave the distributors 14 days to appeal that order to the state Supreme Court, and he also gave them two weeks to settle the lawsuit in order to keep the pill shipment numbers under wraps.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the attorney general’s office sued the drug distributors, alleging they helped fuel the prescription drug problem in West Virginia.

Out-of-state distributors claimed that unsealing the records would give their competitors access to confidential business and sensitive sales data. But Thompson wrote that keeping the records sealed did not outweigh the public’s right to see the court filings, and that the lawsuit doesn’t include information about the distributors’ prescription drug sales prices or profits.

“The complaint has, at best, only speculative value to competitors .” Thompson wrote.

In February, Miami-based drug wholesaler Miami-Luken reached a $2.5 million settlement with the state.

Other companies named in the lawsuit are AmerisourceBergen; J.M. Smith Corp.; The Harvard Drug Group; Anda Inc.; Associated Pharmacies; H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug; Keysource Medical; Masters Pharmaceuticals; Quest Pharmaceuticals; Richie Pharmacal; and Top Rx.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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