The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors April 25 announced it is retaining a national law firm and is joining a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors “responsible for the opioid epidemic across the country and in Del Norte County.”

According to a county release, the legal action will include a cost recovery action, as well as relief to help mitigate and prevent problems.

“They will be doing most of the work,” said county CAO Jay Sarina. “It won’t cost us anything but some staff time.” Sarina compared the suit to one filed against tobacco companies that resulted in them paying reimbursement to states.

According to a release from the law firm, Baron and Budd, more than 30 California counties have joined the suit.

According to the county release, the California county consortium and its counsel have developed evidence that many of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids — deliberately misinforming doctors by claiming patients using the drugs rarely experience addiction.

The expected manufacturer defendants include Purdue Pharma; Teva Ltd. (which acquired pharmaceutical maker Cephalon, Inc. in 2011); Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson); Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Allergan PLC; and Mallinckrodt. Drugs manufactured by these companies include, but are not limited to: OxyContin, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Nucynta, Nucynta ER, Opana/Opana ER, Percodan, Percocet, Zydone, Kadian and Norco.

“The consortium will also seek recovery from three of the nation’s largest drug distributors — Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. — which failed to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act,” the county release states.

Board of supervisors Chair Chris Howard called the suit “an important step for Del Norte County to hold responsible multi-billion dollar corporations, which have placed profits over the safety of the public to the detriment of Del Norte County.”

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