News Details

Licking County Joins the Fight Against the Opioid Distributors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 2017
MEDIA CONTACTS:

Commissioner Duane H. Flowers, 740-670-5117 or dflowers@lcounty.com
Ed Wyatt, Sphere Consulting, 202-862-5526 or edwardw@sphereconsulting.com
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Licking County Joins the Fight Against the Opioid Distributors

LICKING COUNTY, OH. – September 28, 2017 – Licking County, Ohio, is taking a crucial step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opiates into its community, hiring legal representatives to file a lawsuit against the wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.

Licking County is filing its suit against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors, which breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids. The wholesale drug distributors listed as defendants in the lawsuit include McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug.

 “We are taking this action today because the costs of this opioid crisis have overwhelmed our ability to provide for the health and safety of our residents,” said Duane H. Flowers, President - Licking County Board of Commissioners. “Homes have been broken and families torn apart by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life. But this opioid epidemic did not happen by accident. Rather, it is the result of the negligence by wholesale distributors of their legal duty to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.”

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 Licking County community is paying the price.

Licking County Commissioners and the Licking County Prosecutor are working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical 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.

The opioid epidemic has grown worse as people who were addicted to prescription pills have, thanks to heightened enforcement efforts, found them harder to come by. But the residents of Licking 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. 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.

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; McHugh Fuller Law Group; Seif & McNamee and Oths, Heiser, Miller, Wiagand & Clagg. 

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