Chicago-area county sues opioid manufacturers

Chicago-area county sues opioid manufacturers
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Officials in one the nation’s largest counties on Wednesday filed lawsuits against some of the country’s biggest drug manufacturers over their allegedly aggressive marketing of prescription opioid painkillers.

Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, joins an increasing number of cities, states and counties suing drug manufacturers amid the United States’s spiraling opioid epidemic.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, 647 people died from drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Cook County in 2015.  The number of overdose deaths jumped 70 percent in 2016.

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As of the start of December, there have been 847 documented opioid-related deaths this year, the county said.

“This is a public health crisis affecting nearly every community in the County for which we must find a solution,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement.

“We believe a good start is to aggressively confront one of the root causes of this national epidemic: the pharmaceutical companies and those paid by the pharmaceutical companies who put profits before public health and safety," Preckwinkle added.

The complaint seeks monetary damages for the millions of dollars in costs incurred annually as a result of the opioid crisis.

“The impact that opioids are having on Cook County cannot be ignored,” State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement. “We see it in every part of the County, and the human cost is truly staggering. We must act in the public interest and hold accountable those who have been complicit in the creation of this epidemic."

Defendants in the lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, Abbott Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson.

Many of those same companies are facing subpoenas from a coalition of 41 state attorneys general seeking information about the role manufacturers may have played in making the crisis worse.

Cook County Opioid Complaint by M Mali on Scribd