[Above video is from 2017 — eds]
Residents of Cabell County and the city of Huntington, West Virginia will be among the witnesses called at a landmark federal trial regarding the opioid crisis beginning Monday.
Legal experts and justice advocates believe the case, which is being heard in the U.S. District Court in the state’s Southern District, could be a seminal moment for the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people in the U.S. in the past two decades.
The communities are considered ground zero of the opioid crisis, with more than 81 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills prescribed in Cabell County between 2006 and 2014—enough for every resident to have 94 of the highly addictive pills each year.
Local authorities want to hold three companies—AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson—accountable for failing to report—and continuing to fill—suspiciously large orders of the drugs as the crisis worsened, leading Cabell County to report a higher overdose rate at the height of the crisis than West Virginia as a whole, which reported a rate of 21.7 in 2017.
Currently, about 5% of babies born in West Virginia are born to mothers who use opioids, which can lead to life-long health problems. The national rate is less than 1%.

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