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Commissioners join the fight against opioid distributors

The Logan County Commissioners released a statement as they joined the fight against opioid distributors:

The Logan County Board of Commissioners and the Logan County Prosecutor’s office announced today (Thursday) that Logan County, Ohio, is taking a much-needed step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opiates into its community, filing a public nuisance lawsuit against the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.

Logan County has filed suit against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies and against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors. The manufacturing companies pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction, while the distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids.

Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, in 1970 Congress designed a system to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country. It let only a select few wholesalers gain the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to do a very important job – halt suspicious orders and control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate uses. But in recent years they failed to do that, and today the Logan County community is paying the price.

The Logan County Commissioners are working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors accountable for failing to do what they were charged with doing under the federal Controlled Substances Act – monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.

“We are greatly concerned about the opioid crisis that impacts our various agencies and schools. But most of all, we see this as a step forward to help our county’s citizens by providing more prevention and recovery programs,” Commissioner Antram said.

The residents of Logan County continue to bear the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement have continued to rise. Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 opioid prescriptions were dispensed for every 10 residents of Logan County in 2016. According to a federal study, roughly 1 in 7 people who received a refill or had a second opioid prescription authorized were still on opioids one year later.

Commissioner Bayliss added “It has made a huge impact upon the amount of work that has been undertaken by children services, the board of developmental disabilities, prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, and the courts.”

The County has hired expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include: Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; and McHugh Fuller Law Group.

“Being a conservative, my first inclination is not to pursue legal action in court, but this opiate epidemic is directly related to the distributors and manufactures that had the responsibility to inform the public of the dangers of these drugs.” Commissioner Wickersham said.

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