The place might sound familiar, even if you’ve never been there: the Appalachian foothills, down by the Ohio River, where the sirens scream addiction and death.
Twenty-six overdoses in one afternoon. The highest death rate in the state. One in 10 babies born dependent. Huntington, West Virginia, is the capital of America’s opioid epidemic.
Paul Farrell knows all about it. He grew up here, went off to college, and returned home. He watched the calamity unfold. First it was prescription pills like OxyContin. Then it was heroin, $20 a hit.
Now, Farrell is looking to set things right. He’s the engine behind one of the most daunting legal endeavors in modern U.S. history: more than 800 lawsuits brought by cities and counties against central figures in the opioid tragedy—the makers of prescription painkillers and the companies that distribute them.