Trumbull County files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Lawsuit: "This case is about one thing- corporate greed"

Trumbull County files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

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Trumbull county, Ohio -

Trumbull County joins the growing list of counties, states, and individual officials that have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies who manufacture prescription opioids. 

The 270-page lawsuit alleges that more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing strategies about the addictive nature of opioid pain-killers. 

The lawsuit accuses the companies "put their desire for profits above the health and well-being of Trumbull County." 

Trumbull County has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic- with a deadly overdose rate of 34.2 per 100,000 population "which is one of the highest rates in Ohio", detailed in the suit.

The complaint filed Tuesday on behalf of the Trumbull County commissioners, claims that the county has lost not only money through the cost of paying for treatment, preventative services, and law enforcement, but has also accrued other losses, such as the future productivity of those who have suffered fatal overdoses. 

Trumbull County Commissioners say it's time to seek action and they're hopeful the lawsuit will be successful.

"I think the opioid crisis has affected so many communities, obviously the manufacturers and the distributors of opioids throughout the country has made a lot of money unfortunately and mislead a lot of people," said Mauro Cantalamessa.

"It's holding people to a higher standard and more accountable and I think it's sending a message throughout the United States that people are taking this serious," said Dan Polivka.

All agree that any money recouped from the lawsuit would go back to departments weighed down the drug battle.

"There are a lot of people working, trying to solve the problem, if we were able to get some money from this, I think that's what we would do," Frank Fuda said.

The Trumbull County Sheriff's office, 911 dispatch center, mental health and recovery services and Trumbull County Children Services are among the county departments hardest hit.

From 2013 to 2015, children services saw the number of children placed into custody increase by 40-percent.

The county agency recently saw placement costs skyrocket to about $1 million a year.

"Kids are in foster care or placement longer, because it takes their families longer to get restored to sobriety, kids are in higher levels of care, because of the damage that exposure causes," Tim Schaffner said, executive director of Trumbull County Children Services.

Schaffner says the agency currently needs more foster families. 

Overall, the lawsuit alleges that the companies either claimed that their opioid painkillers had low or no, risks for addiction. 

The lawsuit also claims that the companies didn't do enough to report suspicious orders, or stop deliveries from being diverted. 

The complaint asks that a Trumbull County jury consider the lawsuit, and seeks compensation for funds that the county has lost because of the opioid epidemic. 

Waves of drug overdose spikes stretched the county's resources this year, setting a new record with more than 150 deaths.

Trumbull County is far from the first group to file a lawsuit against these companies. 

In May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued the five largest manufacturers of prescription opioids for their alleged roles in misleading doctors about how addictive prescription opioids are. That lawsuit seeks remedies from the manufacturers to help remediate the damage caused by the proliferation of opioids in Ohio. 

DeWine laid out a 12 step initiative that the funds could go toward to help ease the opioid epidemic. 

In addition, Cuyahoga, Summit, and Lake Counties, as well as several individual cities, have filed similar complaints against pharmaceutical companies. 

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