Carlton County filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court against six of the country’s largest opioid manufacturers and distributors alleging that the companies used deceitful marketing and minimized the addictive nature of the drugs.
“The goal is to recover some funds that have been expended to deal with the opioid crisis, and then have some funds to address it going forward with new initiatives,” Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola said.
An attorney out of Minneapolis is handling the multi-jurisdictional litigation. Ketola is hopeful the U.S. District Court in Cleveland will find the opioid manufacturers and distributors liable for the damages the county has faced.
Currently, the county has more than 200 open drug cases and is strapped for resources. Probation officers, public defenders and jail staff are among employees who spend a lot of time serving those affected by opioid use disorder, Ketola said.
“I just don’t think we have an understanding of the enormous impact of drug use, and that’s just the financial side. We’re not even talking about the devastation to families and children and lives,” Ketola said.
In 2017, more than 17,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The opioid manufacturers included in the lawsuit are Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Inc. and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, while the opioid distributors are McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.
More than 1,800 lawsuits have been filed against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.