West Virginia is a case study in how legal battles against drug companies don’t always balance the scales
By Debbie Cenziper, Emily Corio, Kelly Hooper and Douglas Soule
Photos by Salwan Georges and video by Whitney Shefte Oct. 18, 2019
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The ward of the state was barely 16 inches long. He slept in a bassinet with a monitor that tracked his heart rate and a heat lamp that warmed his limbs. The isolation room was hushed. The doctors wanted it that way because the three-pound patient in the bright blue T-shirt fussed at even the dullest sounds.
“I’m a boy,” read a note posted in June at the baby’s side in the neonatal intensive care unit in Charleston. He was comforted by a nurse who learned long ago to recognize the high-pitched cries of newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal.