FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Allen County will file suit against drug companies in an effort to win back expenses incurred from opioid abuse by residents.
Early Friday, the Allen County commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a lawsuit. The commissioners said pharmaceutical companies misrepresented the impact of opioids to doctors.
The drug companies reportedly told doctors the drugs were not addictive, the commissioners said.
The idea for a legal battle was that of Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deb McMahan. McMahan said she was approached by a group of lawyers about the possibility of seeking damages as a result of the epidemic.
McMahan said the United States makes up 5 percent of the world’s population but Americans consume 85% of the opioids. While some of the blame lies in the hands of the users and even prescribers, many people across the nation are now looking at the drug companies.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared opioid addiction a “public health crisis.”
“This is a national crisis and I don’t think we can say that enough,” said McMahan. “If there are questions or allegations being made that they somehow were contributing to this crisis, why should they not be apart of this settlement?”
She brought the proposal to the Allen County board of Commissioners. Nelson Peters said he was hesitant about filing the lawsuit at first but after doing some research he decided he was on board.
“It really wasn’t fair to go back to the tax payers and say, ‘taxpayers you have to foot the bill for this problem’ when it is a problem that the population as a whole did not create,” said Peters.
The law firms would investigate and pursue claims against drug companies and would be paid through any settlement collected. It is unclear how much money, if any, they could receive through a settlement..
“To me it reminds me so much of the tobacco settlement,” said McMahan. “It’s uncharted territory. I think it’s worth investigating this and if it’s not true, that’s what the system is for.”