Two counties in Ohio will soon be at the center of one of the largest and potentially most important civil cases in American history. Cuyahoga County and Summit County are set to go to trial in October, representing the first case among the 2,000 counties, cities, Native American tribes, and other plaintiffs looking to sue the opioid industry. The case will be a vital legal measuring stick for others looking to sue opioid manufacturers and the pharmacies that distributed the drugs.
The two Ohio counties alone are seeking billions of dollars to help combat the ongoing opioid crisis. The county governments claim that the drug industry has created a public nuisance and that they either knew or should have known that their drugs were being used illegally.
The opioid crisis claimed over 47,000 lives in 2017 alone, accounting for more than half of all overdose deaths. Just over 17,000 of those deaths were caused by prescription drugs. Other addicts who first became addicted to prescribed opioids turned to heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs that can be bought on the street.
Cuyahoga County saw over 9,000 people treated in county emergency rooms last year due to drug-related health problems. Meanwhile, two people a day died from either heroin or fentanyl overdoses every single day. In Summit County, the government was forced to deploy a mobile morgue to handle the influx of bodies.
The companies and distributors have claimed that over-prescribing doctors, not them, were at fault. However, various investigations and allegations claim that drug manufacturers and distributors encouraged, rewarded, and trained doctors to dispense as many pills as possible.
Sadly, veterans are twice as likely to die of accidental overdoses of addictive pain killers than non-veterans. The opioid crisis has become so toxic that the Sackler family saw their name removed from a wing in the Louvre. The family controls Purdue Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country.