Every day, it seems as another location joins the growing list of cities, counties, and states who are pursuing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors. Local governments are trying to combat the worsening opioid epidemic in America, while at the same time, hold these corporate entities responsible. In 2016, there were more fatal drug overdoses in America than any other year on record – an estimated 64,000 deaths. That number is correct, it represents a 22% one-year increase over 2015. And the driving force behind this ongoing tragedy is prescription opioids. Right now, there are over 70 ongoing lawsuits, against multiple companies. In addition, a coalition of 41 State Attorneys General have subpoenaed a number of opioid manufacturers about their sales and marketing tactics. More lawsuits are sure to be coming. Here is a snapshot of some of the players involved in the current lawsuits against drug manufacturers in America. Of special relevance, this list is not comprehensive, because as more information comes out, the number of plaintiffs will only continue to grow.
Why Are These Drug Lawsuits Significant?
It is important to understand that these lawsuits aren’t being filed on behalf of individuals. In other words, if there is an eventual judgement or settlement, there won’t be payouts to every single person who has ever struggled with opioid dependency or addiction. These lawsuits were filed on behalf of governments, because they want to recoup some of the financial losses they’ve incurred by shouldering the burden imposed by opioid abuse within the community:
- Homeless Population
- Law Enforcement
- Emergency Services
- Court Costs
- Medical Care
- Anti-Overdose Medication
- Government-Funded Drug Rehab
At any rate, any recovery is most likely years away. So why do these lawsuits matter? Firstly, they bring real attention to the real dangers of opioid painkillers. Despite what we were told, drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and fentanyl aren’t completely safe. Next, this awareness may lead to a positive shift in how pain medications are dispensed. This could put an end to over-prescribing, one of the factors that fueled the opioid crisis. Finally, if these lawsuits are successful, it could greatly expand the resources available to city, county, and state governments. These resources could then be used to make treatment services available to more people in need. Right now, only about 1 out of every 10 people who need substance abuse treatment are currently receiving it.
List of the Big Pharma Companies and Distributors That Are Being Sued
- Amerisource Bergen
- Cardinal Health
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals
- Johnson & Johnson
“Alabama has disproportionately suffered from prescription painkiller abuse and I have joined with a majority of my fellow Attorneys General to investigate what role opioid manufacturers may have had in creating or prolonging the opioid abuse epidemic.” ~ Steve Marshall, Alabama Attorney General Note: In 2012, Alabama had the highest rate of prescription opioid abuse in the country. In 2015, Alabama doctors wrote 5.8 MILLION painkiller prescriptions, or about 1.2 per state resident. The national rate is .71.
“The opioid and heroin epidemic has destroyed too many lives, and torn apart families and communities. In Alaska, we saw opioid-related deaths quadruple in six years.” ~ Governor Bill Walker Note: In February 2017, Governor Walker declared an opioid emergency in Alaska.
“Insys made hundreds of millions of dollars from its deceptive scheme but also put countless patients in harm’s way, exposing them to unacceptable and unnecessary risks of addiction and death.” ~ Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General Note: There are approximately 100 opioid deaths in Arizona every month.
“…defendants persuaded doctors and patients that what they had long known — that opioids are addictive drugs, unsafe in most circumstances for long-term use — was untrue, and quite the opposite, that the compassionate treatment of pain required opioids.” ~ from the class-action lawsuit filed in June 2017 Note: In 2016, Arkansas had the second-highest rate of opioid prescribing in the country.
“As in other cities across the state, the opioid epidemic has been taking the lives of our young people and destroying families throughout our communities.” ~ Mayor William Bell, Birmingham Note: Between 2015 and 2016, the number of heroin-or-fentanyl-related deaths in Jefferson County DOUBLED.
“I’ve heard time and time again, many individuals become addicted to opioids after they or a family member or friend are prescribed the medication and then they end up experimenting with the excess medication down the line.” ~ State Rep. J.P. Sredzinski Note: In 2016, Bridgeport had the second-greatest number of opioid overdoses in the state.
“How this starts is sometimes with a simple surgery and patients get prescribed the opioids and get hooked. These are hard drugs doctors are prescribing and many people are looking at them as safe drugs. A lot of these prescriptions are being over-prescribed and the patients are being told the wrong information.” ~ Mayor Ken Cockayne, Bristol Note: in 2016, Bristol had the fourth-highest number of opioid-related deaths in Connecticut.
Broome County, New York
“The companies essentially created a whole bunch of false marketing and pseudo-science that suggested that as long as you were taking these medications for actual physical pain, and not to get high, you would not get addicted. And that’s just simply false.” ~ Lead counsel Paul Hanly Note: 90% of drug overdose deaths in Broome County are opioid-related.
“The opioid crisis is devastating our communities. This multistate investigation aims to determine what role drug companies may have played in furthering this crisis.” ~ Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General Note: 70% of overdose deaths in California involve prescription opioids.
The Cherokee Nation
“There are safeguards that are supposed to be followed — federal laws — that they turn a blind eye to because their profits are much more important to them.” ~ Todd Hembree, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Note: Nearly one-third of all prescription opioids prescribed in the state of Oklahoma go to the Cherokee Nation.
“For years, Big Pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line. This has led to a dramatic rise in drug addiction, overdose and diversion in communities across the nation, and Chicago is not immune to this epidemic.” ~ Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Note: 24% of Chicago adults who take prescription opioids admit to misusing them.
“They’ve admitted that they knew it was suspicious and they didn’t report, they didn’t investigate, they didn’t do anything despite knowing the tragedy and travesty they would be wreaking on the country.” ~ Mayor John Cranley, Cincinnati Note: More than half of the opioid overdose deaths in Hamilton County involve fentanyl.
“Every day our country and state lose loved ones to the opioid epidemic.” ~ Cynthia Coffman, Colorado Attorney General Note: Since 2012, the number of babies born with an opioid addiction in Colorado has skyrocketed 91%.
“This crisis affects every state, killing more than 90 Americans every day, and continues to have a devastating impact on Connecticut – tearing apart families and communities and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines.” ~ George Jepson, Connecticut Attorney General Note: Estimates predict that in 2017, there will be 1746% more fentanyl-related deaths in Connecticut than there were in 2013.
Cuyahoga County, Ohio
“There is a direct correlation between the over-prescription of opioid pain pills and addiction and subsequent deaths of our mothers, fathers, and loved ones.” ~ Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive Note: In 2016, there were over 500 opioid deaths in Cuyahoga County. The estimate for 2017 is on pace to exceed 800.
“We are beyond a crisis, we have lost so many people, we are in a state of emergency, we need action now. We believe the drug companies made this mess, and it is time they stop passing the buck.” ~ Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton Note: First responders in Dayton are on track to DOUBLE 2016’s suspected overdose calls.
“These efforts to hold manufacturers of opioids financially responsible where the law allows are an important part of our overall effort to improve prevention and treatment of substance abuse. If our investigations reveal that the manufacturers of these products violated Delaware law, we will seek to have them help pay for the fight to end the epidemic.” ~ Matt Denn, Delaware Attorney General Note: From 2015 to 2016, fentanyl-related deaths in Delaware increased by 186%.
Delaware County, Pennsylvania
“We will fight this national epidemic of senseless death and destruction with civil litigation.” ~ Jack Whelan, County District Attorney Note: 90% of the county’s 167 drug deaths this year were opioid-related.
Delray Beach, Florida
“No pathogen, virus or war on this country’s soil has caused the death and destruction as the scourge of opioid addiction.” ~ Mayor Cary Glickstein, Delray Beach Note: There were 690 drug overdoses in Delray Beach in 2016.
District of Columbia
“Deaths from opioid overdoses are skyrocketing across our country, and the District is no stranger to that trend.” ~ Karl Racine, District of Columbia Attorney General Note: 2014-2016, opioid-related deaths in the District of Columbia, nearly TRIPLED.
Dutchess County, New York
“The opioid and heroin epidemic is the public health crisis of our lifetime, and Dutchess County has lost far too many lives to this scourge…It is time drug companies acknowledge the devastating damage, take responsibility for their deceptive marketing practices, and be held accountable for misrepresenting the dangers of these addictive painkillers.” ~ Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive Note: 2010-2014, opioid-related emergency room visits in Dutchess County rose by 45%.
“We have seen the exponential negative effects of the opiate epidemic. It largely does go back, at least in part, to the drug companies.” ~ Mayor Holly Brinda, Elyria Note: Over the past year, Elyria incurred more than $1 million of unexpected expenses because of opioid-related emergencies.
Erie County, New York
“We believe the pharmaceutical companies and those doctors are the ones who should be held responsible. They have created a whole nation of addicts by stating publicly that these drugs were not addictive and were quite safe, when we knew they were very addictive and dangerous.” ~ Mark C. Poloncarz, Erie County executive Note: So far in 2017, there have been 274 suspected or confirmed overdose deaths in Erie County.
“We feel that the cost of this in our city, in terms of lives, in terms of treatment, in terms of housing, in terms of policing and our fire department, should be borne by that company that is responsible for what we’re seeing.” ~ Hil Kaman, Director of Public Health and Safety, City of Everett Note: Over the past 10 years, opioid overdoses in Snohomish County have killed more people than car crashes, murders, or falls.
“Florida citizens continue to become addicted to opioids and die daily — meanwhile, prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and the medical profession all point fingers at each other as the cause of this national crisis.” ~ Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General Note: In May 2017, Governor Rick Scott declared Florida’s opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency.
Fulton County, Georgia
“There is a pipeline between getting your wisdom tooth out and getting hooked on opioids and winding up on the street with a needle in your arm.” ~ Roderick Edmond, an attorney representing Fulton County Note: Fulton County is the first county in Georgia to file a lawsuit.
“America’s biggest drug problem isn’t only on our streets. It is also in our medicine cabinets.” ~ Chris Carr, Georgia Attorney General Note: There were over 541 MILLION opioid doses prescribed to Georgia resident between June 2016 and May 2017.
“…my office and the state health department are determined to educate the public here and enforce laws to prevent the spread of opioid abuse in Hawaii.” ~ Doctor Chin, Hawaii Attorney General Note: Between 2000 and 2016, opioid overdose deaths in Hawaii more than DOUBLED.
As of yet, Idaho has not taken any action. Note: 2004-2013, the drug-induced death rate in Idaho jumped by almost 77%.
“I want to know whether drug companies, seeking higher profits, have recklessly and unlawfully pushed addictive opioids. We must hold drug companies accountable for their role in the epidemic levels of opioid overdoses and deaths in Illinois and around the country.” ~ Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General Note: 80% of drug overdose deaths in Illinois involve opioids.
“We’re asking tough questions and we’re seeking solid evidence to help us understand how pharmaceutical companies have mass marketed and sold these highly addictive pain medications, including claims they’ve made about their products. These are prescription drugs that we know have helped fuel epidemic levels of addiction to opioids and heroin.” ~ Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General Note: 2005-2015, opioid-related overdose deaths in Iowa jumped 76%, and overdose deaths involving heroin spiked 650%.
“Left unchecked, opioid addiction will continue to incite criminality, tear apart families, and take the lives of Indianapolis residents. As we work to combat this epidemic of addiction and connect affected community members with the treatment they need, those who have contributed to this crisis should be held accountable.” ~ Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indianapolis Note: In 2016, the number of overdose deaths in Marion County was FOUR TIMES the number of traffic fatalities.
“We have innocent people dying every day. These are people and that’s what really irritates me about the pharmaceuticals. They had to know. It’s well documented. They did know that this was addictive and yet they sold it to the medical profession as not being addictive.” ~ Bill Gulliford, Jacksonville City Councilman Note: 2014-2015, the number of overdose calls handled by the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department rose by 62%.
“Because of the unique and multi-faceted nature of prescription opioid misuse…I have concluded it is in the public interest to confirm that Kansas has been and remains part of this broad-based, bipartisan, coordinated investigation.” ~ Derek Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General Note: 2000-2016, the number of opioid-related deaths in Kansas increased by 454%.
“It is my duty to ensure that those companies that have profited in the billions from this flood of addictive opioids and who knew how addictive these opioids were are held responsible.” ~ Andy Bashear, Kentucky Attorney General Note: The rate of opioid overdose deaths in Kentucky is DOUBLE the national rate.
Kermit, West Virginia
“The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for the economic burden shouldered by Kermit, which like many cities and counties throughout West Virginia, has been decimated by the opioid epidemic.” ~ Official statement from Kermit Note: Kermit has a population of just 392 residents. However, in one six-year period, out-of-state drug wholesalers sold over 12 MILLION hydrocodone tablets to a single local pharmacy.
“It’s affecting pretty much everyone in the community. The actions of companies who market and distribute opioid drugs have contributed significantly to these issues through activities…” ~ Jim Lysen, Lewiston City Council Note: 1999-2013,opioid deaths in Lewiston increased fourfold.
“The fact of the matter is the companies knew these drugs were addictive, and they weren’t truthful about it. Instead, they downplayed it, and now people are prescribed opioids for pain, and it leads to other things.” ~ Mayor Chase Ritenauer, Loraine Note: 2012-2013, 83% of drug overdose deaths in Lorain County involved opioids.
“We intend to hold these pharmaceutical companies responsible for the lasting damage they have caused upon our people and the millions of dollars their wrongful claims have cost our state.” ~ Governor Jon Bel Edwards Note: 110 opioid prescriptions are written for every 100 Louisiana residents.
“We need to get the genie back in the pill bottle; our society is awash in pills and it is killing us.” ~ Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General Note: In 2016, drug overdoses in Maine reached an all-time high, and were 40% higher than the previous year.
“The opioid epidemic has been devastating to communities and families across Maryland. Addiction to opiates is dangerous and it’s our goal to combat the opioid epidemic from all angles. My office, in coordination with Attorneys General nationwide, is looking into whether unlawful marketing practices have played a role in contributing to the epidemic.” ~ Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General Note: Between 2015 and 2016, opioid-related deaths in Maryland increased by 70%. Even more telling, since 2010, they have almost QUADRUPLED.
“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that is claiming lives in our state and across the country, and we want to assure our residents that we are doing all that we can to combat it.” ~ Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General Note: Between 2015 and 2016, opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts increased by 17%, totaling the highest number of such deaths ever recorded in the state.
“Highly addictive opioid drugs have destroyed families, robbed children of parents and robbed parents of children. I will be working with Attorneys General from across the country, pooling our resources, and digging into the marketing, distribution and sale of opioids.” ~ Bill Schuette, Michigan Attorney General Note: Since 1999,opioid deaths in Michigan have QUADRUPLED.
“Growing addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is devastating families from all walks of life across all parts of our state.” ~ Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General Note: In 2016, the number of drug overdose deaths in Minnesota was 9.2% higher than 2015’s total, and 6 TIMES the number in 2000.
“For over two decades, these pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars in profits by misrepresenting to tens of millions of doctors and patients the significant dangers of prescription opioids — marketing the drug as rarely addictive and a safe substitute for non-addictive pain medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.” ~ Jim Hood, Mississippi Attorney General Note: Enough prescription opioids are prescribed in Mississippi to individually give every man, woman, and child in the state a pain pill every day for 67 days.
“They used bogus front organizations and fake research; they used fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices. And they repeatedly lied about the true risks of the drugs they sold.” ~ Josh Hawley, Missouri Attorney General Note: 65% of all overdose deaths in Missouri involve opioids.
As of yet, Montana has not taken any action. Note: Between 2000 and 2015, heroin violations in Montana spiked 1557%. Among heroin abusers, 80% started out by misusing prescription painkillers.
Multnomah County, Oregon
“Regardless of whether you call it a crisis or an epidemic, Multnomah County is on the front lines of the fight against (opioid abuse). And that fight costs this community dearly. In lives shattered and lost. And, in public money spent in a seemingly endless fight.” ~ from Multnomah County’s lawsuit Note: From 2011 through 2015, the rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Multnomah County was the third-highest in the state.
Nassau County, New York
“It’s costing the county a lot of money to get these people off opioids. Just the number of opioid-related emergency room visits has doubled within four years. The number of opioid-related deaths doubled in Nassau County in just two years.” ~ Salvatore Badala, lead attorney Note: In 2016, fentanyl-related deaths in Nassau County nearly TRIPLED.
“This lawsuit is design to recover monetary damages. You may ask what are our monetary damages. Well, our healthcare costs are up, our workman’s compensation is up, our police costs are up. This lawsuit is designed to cover those costs but also to deter and eliminate some of the conduct that has gone on in the past.” ~ Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, Naugatuck Note: There will be an estimated 18% more overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2017 than there were in 2016, and over 300% more than there were in 2012.
“The opioid crisis this nation faces today is, in part, due to the past actions of certain players in the pharmaceutical industry. The goal of this investigation is to determine who in the industry should bear responsibility under our consumer protection laws.” ~ Doug Peterson, Nebraska Attorney General Note: From 2004 to 2015, the overdose death rate in Nebraska more than DOUBLED.
“The national opioid epidemic has hit Nevada hard, and we have been investigating drug manufacturers for many months. This is an important investigation on behalf of the health and safety of all Nevadans.” ~ Adam Paul Laxalt Note: According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2016, Nevada had the sixth-highest milligrams of opioids distributed per adult in the country.
“To defeat the epidemic, we must stop creating new users, and part of that is making sure these highly addictive and dangerous drugs are marketed truthfully and without deception and in such a way as not to minimize addiction risks or overstate benefits to patients.” ~ Ann Rice, New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Note: Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people in New Hampshire killed by overdoses increased nearly TENFOLD.
“The conduct alleged in our lawsuit is nothing short of evil. We contend that the company used every trick in the book, including sham speaking and consulting fees and other illegal kickbacks, in a callous campaign to boost profits from the sale of its marquee drug Subsys.” ~ Christopher Porrino, New Jersey Attorney General Note: 2015-2016, the number of fentanyl deaths in New Jersey DOUBLED.
“Drug companies have refused to acknowledge how addictive these drugs that they peddle really are.” ~ Hector Balderas, New Mexico Attorney General Note: New Mexico ranks #15 in the country for the number of drug overdose deaths.
New Milford, Connecticut
“We have people dying in New Milford, and we’re at the breaking point…We need pressure through the court so we can get some resources to put education and treatment in place.” ~ Mayor David Gronbach, New Milford Note: The rate of heroin overdose deaths in New Milford is three times what it is in much-larger Danbury.
“Our subpoenas and letters seek to uncover whether or not there was deception involved, if manufacturers misled doctors and patients about the efficacy and addictive power of these drugs.” ~ Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General Note: 2009-2013,the number of drug-related deaths in New York State increased by 40%.
“I cannot underscore the importance of this investigation enough. If these companies broke the law in any way, if they created the misery that the people of North Carolina are suffering, I will hold them accountable.” ~ Josh Stein, North Carolina Attorney General Note: 2000-2015, the number of drug overdose deaths in North Carolina QUADRUPLED.
“Widespread opioid abuse has resulted in a crisis all across the nation and it is appropriate to assess and address any potentially unlawful practices that may have contributed to the epidemic.” ~ Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General Note: Between 2013 and 2015, drug-related deaths in North Dakota increased by 42%.
“These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids.” ~ Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General Note: In 2015, Ohio led the nation in fatal opioid overdoses with nearly 2700 deaths—a 28% increase over 2014.
“We believe these companies are culpable for the tragic, heartbreaking number of Oklahomans who have become addicted or who have died as a result of the opioid epidemic in our state.” ~ Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General Note: In 2012, Oklahoma doctors prescribed 128 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents.
Orange County, California
“We have charged these pharmaceutical companies for knowingly harming public health by waging a massive campaign to sell huge quantities of these dangerous drugs for profit.” ~ Tony Rackaukas, Orange County District Attorney Note: 70% of the drug overdose deaths in Orange County involve opioids.
Orange County, New York
“The opioid epidemic has resulted in great losses and injury to Orange County and its residents.” ~ Paul Hanly, lead attorney Note: In 2014, the rate of heroin-related deaths in Orange County was the highest in the state of New York.
“Every day more Oregon communities are struggling with opioid abuse and related deaths. This makes me more determined than ever to hold these companies accountable for their role in this epidemic.” ~ Ellen F. Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General Note: Prescription opioid overdoses kill 3 Oregon residents every week.
“This is something that we’ve been wanting—needing—to do for a long time.” ~ George Temple, Oxford Assemblyman Note: Oxford has one of the highest rates of overdose deaths in Connecticut.
Palm Beach County, Florida
“The epidemic is impacting the manufacturing industry and business communities. People cannot pass drug tests because of this. The bigger picture is that addiction is a disease. We want to break the stigma of addicts because nobody wakes up one day and chooses to become an addict.” ~ Vice-Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach County Note: In 2015, Palm Beach County had 305 opioid-related deaths—the most in the state of Florida.
“The fact that the County Morgue has run out of space for all of the deceased opioid victims is just one of the latest shocking effects of the opioid epidemic taking place across this country.” ~ Joseph L. Ciaccio, lead attorney Note: As of June 2017, heroin and fentanyl deaths in Cuyahoga County are up 38%, compared to the first six months of 2016.
Patterson, New Jersey
“Like so many other Americans, we have been saddened to see the toll that the opioid epidemic has taken on our communities. The pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesale distributors must be held responsible for their actions, which are the root cause of so much human and financial loss.” ~ David Scott, lead counsel for the law firm representing the city of Patterson Note: Since 2013, fentanyl-related deaths in New Jersey have exploded 2000%.
“The people peddling the drugs ripping apart our towns aren’t only on our street corners. Three out of four heroin users started by abusing prescription opioids, and our ongoing investigation is going straight into the boardrooms of pharmaceutical companies.” ~ Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General Note: 2015-2016, drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania increased by 37%.
“The opioid epidemic has been and continues to be a crisis in the United States, in Maine, and more particularly in the City of Portland.” ~ Danielle West-Chuhta, City Attorney for the City of Portland Note: 2015-2016, drug overdoses in the state of Maine increased by 40%.
Princeton, West Virginia
“One of the problems we have in Princeton, southern West Virginia, West Virginia and the United States of America is our drug problem. It’s more than serious. It’s an epidemic, it’s a war.” ~ Mayor Dewey Russell, Princeton Note: In 2014, there were 35.5 overdose deaths in West Virginia per 100,000 residents. The national rate that year was just 13.
“The problem we have today started in the medicine cabinet, and I’ve got to believe companies, when they did all their research, had to know the potential for some of this addiction. It was so loosey-goosey, right down to the doctors distributing these like M&Ms.” ~ Mayor Thomas P. Koch, Quincy Note: Between 2013 and 2016, opioid overdose deaths in Quincy rose by nearly 62%.
“We know all too well the devastation and loss from the opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose crisis in this country. It tears families apart and results all too often in death. This epidemic did not start in a vacuum, and we must look at every aspect of the supply chain – starting with the manufacturers and distributors – to determine how we got here in order to effectively solve the epidemic.” ~ Peter F. Kilmartin, Rhode Island Attorney General Note: Opioid overdose deaths in Rhode Island have risen 30% since 2011.
Santa Clara County, California
“Our residents have borne the costs of the deceptive marketing scheme conducted by opioid drug companies. These costs include not only the horrors of addiction for entire families and communities, but also increased crime due to addiction outstripping treatment options.” ~ Danny Chou, Assistant County Counsel, County of Santa Clara Note: Between 2011 and 2015, heroin deaths in Santa Clara County jumped 126%.
Saratoga County, New York
“Like most areas of the state, opioid abuse has become an epidemic in Saratoga County. The ease of access, and over-prescription of these dangerous drugs, has led to the death of too many of our friends and neighbors.” ~ Ed Kinowski, Chairman of Saratoga County’s Board of Supervisors Note: From 2012 to 2015, the rate of overdose deaths in Saratoga County more than DOUBLED.
Sauk County, Wisconsin
“Breaking the pharmaceutical companies is a path to breaking the world’s largest innovators and manufacturers of drugs.” ~ Andrea Lombard, Baraboo Supervisor Note: From 2005 to 2015, the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Wisconsin rose by 81%.
Schenectady County, New York
“It’s a matter of they falsely alleged that the drugs that they were selling were not addictive and should be used widely…” ~ Chris Gardner, Schenectady County Attorney Note: In 2015, the rate of opioid-related Emergency Room trips in Schenectady County was 15% higher than the rate for New York State as a whole.
“Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, this disaster is human-made… Our investigation has shown that, here in Seattle, the chief cause of opioid abuse is the deceptive marketing of opioids by pharmaceutical companies.” ~ Pete Holmes, Seattle City Attorney Note: There were 332 drug deaths in King County in 2016. Not only is this an all-time high, it is the seventh consecutive year of increasing overdose deaths. Two-thirds of those deaths involved opioids.
Seneca County, New York
“Many of these opioids have ingredients that make them very addictive and cause some crazy behaviors. I don’t think enough information is given by the drug maker to those who are prescribed these medications.” ~ Don Trout, Seneca County Board of Supervisors Note: From 2010 to 2014, the number of the number of opioid related ER visits in Seneca County increased by over 47%.
“We do not believe that a single lawsuit against a single company will magically fix the problem. But what I can do today as South Carolina’s chief legal officer is to bring this lawsuit against Purdue for its deceit and misrepresentation.” ~ Alan Wilson, South Carolina Attorney General Note: Since 2011, over 3000 South Carolina residents have died because of prescription painkiller overdoses.
“There is a growing national opiate epidemic that is affecting South Dakota and our families and communities.” ~ Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General Note: Between 2015 and 2016, the number of opioid prescriptions in South Dakota increased by 23%.
Suffolk County, New York
“There’s no question that the intelligence we’ve gathered suggests the start of this epidemic was from painkillers.” ~ Tim Sini, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Note: In 2012 alone, there were 8271 opioid-related ER visits in Suffolk County.
Sullivan County, New York
“Some of the counties are spending up to 30 percent of their income on police training, Narcan, indigent burials, body bags.” ~ Maria Napoli, attorney for the law firm representing Sullivan and other New York counties Note: From 2012 to 2014, the rate of fatal heroin overdoses in Sullivan County more than DOUBLED.
“In short, Defendants made and continue to make false and misleading statements about the benefits and risks of opioids, and did so through a well-funded marketing and advertising scheme to doctors, patients, and the public—including to doctors and patients in the City of Tacoma—despite knowing that there was little to no evidence to support their claims.” ~ from the 97-page lawsuit filed September 19, 2017 Note: Between 2002 and 2015, the number of people in Pierce County who sought treatment for opioid addiction shot up 340%.
“The opioid crisis impacts all of us, and is a threat to families in every community in Tennessee and across the country. We will use all resources available to identify and hold accountable those parties responsible. There is too much at stake, not to attack this problem from all sides.” ~ Herbert Slatery, Tennessee Attorney General Note: Between 2015 and 2016, drug overdose deaths in Tennessee rose 12%, suffering the most deaths in state history. Tennessee ranks #2 for the rate of opioid prescriptions per capita.
“The goal of this phase of our investigation is to collect enough information so that the multi-state coalition can effectively evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids.” ~ Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General Note: in 2015, there were 1287 fatal opioid overdoses in Texas.
Toms River, New Jersey
“Too many Toms River residents and their families continue to be affected by drug use and unintentional overdoses. The opioid epidemic must be treated like the public health crisis that it is, one that is tearing apart families and communities.” ~ Councilwoman Maria Maruca Note: Ocean County suffers an overdose death every 2 days.
Ulster County, New York
“I have been to far too many wakes and funerals with grieving families as they suffer the loss of their children to overdoses, and I am pleased that counties across America are standing up to these companies who are preying on our citizens.” ~ Michael Hein, Ulster County Executive Note: 30% of all deaths investigated by the Ulster County Medical Examiner’s Office are opioid-related.
Upshur County, Texas
“While the pharmaceutical industry pulls in huge profits, local governments are bearing the weight of these industry marketing and sales tactics, having to find a way to pay for increased health care and community services, such as courts, child services, treatment centers and law enforcement.” ~ Jeffrey Simon, one of the attorneys representing Upshur County in the lawsuit Note: Upshur County is the first governmental body in Texas to sue opioid manufacturers.
“The attorneys general seek to determine what role the opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in creating or prolonging this epidemic and determine the appropriate course of action to help resolve this crisis.” ~ Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General Note: Between 2011 and 2015, oxycodone deaths in Utah increased by almost 23%.
“When you’re looking at the opiate crisis, it really is critical that it is a comprehensive approach. If we’re talking about a comprehensive approach, we should address the question of corporate responsibility.” ~ TJ Donovan Note: From 2015 to 2016, the number of opioid deaths in Vermont climbed by over 41%.
“We lost over 1,100 Virginians to the opioid crisis just last year, and everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to ensure we don’t lose another life to this devastating epidemic. I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan investigation into the culpability of opioid manufacturers in creating, sustaining and extending the opioid epidemic, and I’m glad to see it move forward.” ~ Mark Herring, Virginia Attorney General Note: Fentanyl-related deaths in Virginia skyrocketed more than 276% between 2015 and 2016.
“Purdue Pharma ignored the devastating consequences of its opioids and profited from its massive deception. It’s time they are held accountable and pay for the devastation they caused.” ~ Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General Note: In 2015, opioids killed more Washington residents than car wrecks.
“We’re all dealing with this opioid crisis, epidemic – it’s absolutely having devastating impacts on every city and town in the state of Connecticut and across the country.” ~ Mayor Neil O’Leary, Waterbury Note: In 2016, the number of accidental drug overdoses in Waterbury was THREE TIMES 2012’s total.
“The epidemic knows no boundaries and if all of us have been working to attack this problem with a supply and demand, it will also lead to an educational perspective on the issue.” ~ Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia Attorney General Note: West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the country—nearly TRIPLE the national rate.
“I am dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic at all levels, local, state, and national, and using all tools at my disposal.” ~ Brad Schimel, Wisconsin Attorney General Note: In 2015, 63% of opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin involved prescription pain medications.
As of yet, Wyoming has not yet taken any action. Note: Among people in the 12-25 age demographic, Wyoming has the 11th-highest overdose death rate in the country. There are virtually no communities in America that have been spared from the ravages of opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths, so if your area is NOT on this list, contact your local government officials.