Opioid Epidemic: Franklin County Prepares to File Suit
Everyday, over 90 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose. Ohio, in particular, has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Unintentional drug poisoning has eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of injury death in the state. The death rate from drug overdose increased 642 percent from 2000 to 2015 and continues to rise.
Government agencies have been struggling to handle the epidemic from the federal to local level. Medical and work loss expenses on average cost Ohioians $5.4 million each day. Franklin County, the largest county in Ohio, is taking steps to join a national lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, hoping to win money to help deal with these costs. This lawsuit is similar to a suite filed at the state level by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in May of 2017.
An attorney representing Franklin County, said, “what we are seeking as recovery in the [suit] is money for the past expenses to deal with the opiate crisis, but going forward, what do these communities need to clean up this mess?”
But why target opioid manufacturers? Manufacturers have been accused of damaging public health by profiting from opioid sales. Mississippi, the first state to file a suit in early 2017, specified that manufacturers of prescription opioids had created marketing campaigns to minimize the risks of addiction and overstate the benefits these drugs have for health issues they are prescribed to treat.
"We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with [the] pain meds that they produced," Mike DeWine, Ohio's Attorney General, stated in a press release, "and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales."
Doctors prescribing opioids have also been under scrutiny by lawmakers. House Bill 167, also known as "Daniel's Law," aims to create guidelines for prescribing opioids in Ohio. House Bill 167 is currently making its way through Ohio Legislature.