Columbiana County files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors
By Justin Wier
The Columbiana County commissioners have filed a federal lawsuit against several drug companies and distributors in an attempt to fight the opioid epidemic and recoup costs resulting from the crisis. The 173-page lawsuit claims manufacturers “aggressively pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction,” and that distributors “intentionally and/or unlawfully breached their legal duties ... to ... report suspicious orders of prescription opioids.”
The commissioners announced their plans to file the lawsuit last year. The matter will likely be transferred into a centralized action that includes more than 200 lawsuits filed by state and local governments against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Judge Dan A. Polster, of U.S. District Court in Cleveland, presides over the multi-district litigation.
Judge Polster has told reporters that in addition to money, he wants a potential settlement to include real solutions to help stop the opioid epidemic.
Columbiana’s action includes claims that the manufacturers and distributors have created a public nuisance, violated the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act and the Ohio corrupt practices act and engaged in deceptive trade practices.
It alleges that the manufacturers and distributors, “trivialized and failed to disclose the risks of long-term opioid use,” which contributed to the epidemic.
The complaint asks the judge to prevent the manufacturers and distributors from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices and to order them to compensate Columbiana County for costs associated with fighting the opioid epidemic.
In December, Trumbull County filed a similar action in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Ohio Attorney General Mike De-Wine also sued the five largest manufacturers of opioids in May.