OHIO- Four opioid prescription companies will be on trial this October in Madison County, nearly 20 months after the state filed suit.
Governor Mike DeWine, then serving as the state Attorney General, listed McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., and Miami-Luken as organizations that unsafely distributed and caused a public nuisance.
“We believe the evidence will show that these companies ignored their duties as drug distributors to ensure that opioids were not being diverted for improper use. They knew the amount of opioids allowed to flow into Ohio far exceeded what could be consumed for medically-necessary purposes, but they did nothing to stop it,” said DeWine in a press release. “And much like the drug manufacturers who continue to fail to do the right thing, these distributors are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and help pay for the damage they have caused.”
This trial will not bring a direct impact on Scioto County but could hasten the legal process. Brought up during Tuesday’s meeting, the Scioto County Commissioners hope with increased pressure on drug companies that their court date or settlements will come sooner and in higher amounts.
“Scioto County has suffered long enough at the hands of drug companies,” said Commissioner Bryan Davis. “We deserve our day in court and hopefully that date will be set very soon.”
The opioid pandemic has wreaked havoc on the state and medical officials worry that the coronavirus could worsen its impact. Scioto County has consistently been the worst when it comes to overdoses, HarmReduction Ohio reporting the highest overdose death rate each year since 2018.
There were 80 overdose deaths in the county last year, good for a rate 119.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. This rate was nearly double the next closest county, nearby Gallia County, whose rate was 65 overdose deaths per 100,000.
To fight the issue, DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost announced the OneOhio agreement on March 11, which would connect state resources in legal settlements with drug manufacturers and distributors.
Portsmouth and Scioto County committed early to the agreement, joining a list of 73 of the state’s 88 counties and approximately 85% of Ohio’s population.
“When it comes to the opioid crisis, almost all of us are in the same boat,” said Yost in the press release. “This agreement formalizes our intent to stand together. We are stronger when we’re united.”
Through OneOhio, 30% of the funding will be set aside for community recovery, 55% will be set aside for the creation of a statewide foundation, and 15% will go to the state of Ohio.
Davis said the plan is not perfect but believes it could assist the county’s attorneys in legal battles.
“Hopefully it has accomplished the goal of getting our day in court,” said Davis. “Our attorneys are ready and hopefully Scioto County will see some relief as a result of this.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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