Report: Drug executive emails mocked Appalachians

Report: Drug executive emails mocked Appalachians


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Emails to and from a drug company executive presented at a landmark West Virginia trial against three large opioid distributors used terms like “pillbillies” to mock Appalachians, according to a published report.

The emails were presented Thursday in the civil case brought by Cabell County and the city of Huntington that accuses drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. of fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic, The Herald-Dispatch reported.

AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. Senior Vice President Chris Zimmerman testified the emails were sent for business purposes, though some vented frustration from work to keep the supply chain safe.

“I’m sure you are going to show me more, but I can tell you the culture at ABDC is of the highest calibers,” he said.

Cabell County attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr. disagreed.

“It is a pattern of misconduct by those in charge of protecting our community,” he said.

The first email mentioned in court contained parody lyrics about “pillbillies” traveling to find opiate prescriptions.

In another, a corporate investigator forwarded an email titled “Oxycontin for kids” that included a cereal box altered to read “SMACK.”

Zimmerman forwarded an email with a news article about increased shipment trucks among distributors and commented, “There is a whole lot of pain in the Appalachian area.”

In another, a lobbyist sent Zimmerman details of stricter legislation in Florida to curb opiate abuse in 2011.

“Watch out Georgia and Alabama, there will be a mass exodus of pillbillies heading north,” he wrote.

The most recent emails were from 2017 and referenced federal legislation introduced by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that would help fund...

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