Counties suing over opioid epidemic

Counties all across the U.S. are suing opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies over the opioid epidemic and the burden it places on municipalities.

Jackson County, Missouri is the latest to sue in federal court saying the opioid epidemic has burdened the county with hospitalizations, emergency medical responses, overdoses and babies born in withdrawal, just to name a few.

"It’s always been here," said First Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler. "It will always be here unfortunately, no matter what we do."

Eyler is referring to opioids. More opioid related calls means more hospitalizations, emergency medical responses, incarcerations and child welfare cases. Those costs are passed down to the county and eventually to the taxpayers. 

"You have a general medicare cost," said Eyler. "You have a general law enforcement cost. Strictly from a county standpoint the initial cost that we see that have been increasing have been the cost of the medicines that first responders have to have on hand to treat an individual."

Narcan reverses an opioid overdose within seconds. 

Michael Lucchetti is a Quincy firefighter and says he has to administer Narcan several times a year. 

"We have two separate vials of Narcan on each truck," said Lucchetti. "They’re slated to expire April of 2019. I don’t think they’ll get there. There’s a very good chance they will be used before that." 

If there’s not enough money to pay for Narcan refills or to pay for other costs related to the opioid epidemic, Eyler says that could very well fall onto the taxpayer’s shoulders. 

"In terms of what those exact dollars are at this point, it’s too early to tell," said Eyler. "Those are always a year later so speak in terms of numbers and seeing what those actual numbers are."

The more than 200 counties suing over the opioid epidemic argue that pharmaceutical companies use deceptive marketing practices and evade regulation on selling controlled substances. 
 

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