Wayne, Oakland counties sue drug companies to fight opioid crisis

- Wayne and Oakland counties are suing more than a dozen drug manufacturers to address the opioid crisis.

Calling them greedy and deceiving, 13 drug companies and distributors are listed on a nearly 200-page lawsuit filed Thursday.

"It's just staggering that we've gotten to this point," said Warren County Executive Warren Evans.

Wayne and Oakland county executives, along with attorney Powell Miller say the companies are fueling the deadly opioid epidemic.

"(There are) more opiate prescriptions in Michigan than there are people," Miller said. "That's the brightest red flag out there that something is wrong."

The lawsuit accused the companies of deceptive marketing, prescribing opioids for chronic pain and not informing patients and some doctors, of the drug risks or addictiveness.

"False information, propaganda, providing information to doctors," Miller said. "Sometimes compensating doctors."

The suit states that in Wayne County opioid-related deaths have increased by 61 percent from 2015 to 2016 and in Oakland County, they've increased by 267 percent.

"They're manufacturing enough pills that everyone in my county could have 45 pills," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. "That's over-prescribing, over-manufacturing and over-distributing."

As for the profits, in 2011 pharmaceutical companies generated $11 billion just from opioid sales.

"I see it as a corporation profits (and) disregards human life," Evans said.

While all agree there are legitimate uses for these drugs, the crisis continues to take lives and the financial consequences are major. Each county pays more for law enforcement and medical care as a result.

"The human cost and the financial costs in two counties is significant," Evans said. "And we think some compensation is necessary for bad behavior."

"I'm hoping we can go full court press on the opioid crisis from the legislators, from lawyers, from regulators, from the media," Miller said. "We've got to stop this problem. It's an embarrassment."

Miller says they still need more patients and doctors to come forward to be a part of this lawsuit. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

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