Cuyahoga County Files Opioid Lawsuit Against Manufacturers and Distributors

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Jeane’ Holley, (216) 698-2544;

CLEVELAND – Today, Cuyahoga County filed suit against manufacturers, distributors, and four individuals who were instrumental in promoting opioids for sale and distribution nationally and in Cuyahoga. Some of the manufacturer defendants include: Purdue Pharma LP, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The distributor defendants include: McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

Cuyahoga County has seen a significant spike in overdose deaths due to opioids and some of the highest rates across the State of Ohio and the country as a whole. According to the Ohio Department of Health, from 2011-2016 Cuyahoga County had a 23.5 drug overdose death rate per 100,000 population.

“Cuyahoga County has been hit terribly hard by the opioid epidemic. In fact, we are on track to lose almost 800 people this year due to drug overdoses. This tragic epidemic is costing lives – our families are losing loved ones every day. In 2016, we lost more people to this epidemic than to deaths from homicides, suicides, and auto accidents combined. But it is also costing taxpayers. This year alone, we have had to bear the burden of increased costs to the Medical Examiner’s office, increased costs of supplying drugs like Narcan to save victims of overdose, and additional cost of children in the foster care system because of a parent’s death or drug addiction. This is an emergency. There is a direct correlation between the over prescription of opioid pain pills and addiction and subsequent deaths of our mothers, fathers, loved ones,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

Cuyahoga County’s opioid problem continues to grow with no end in sight. In January 2017, there were 46 fatal overdoses alone. As of June, it was predicted that the number of overdose deaths in 2017 would reach 775.

“We need to hold the drug manufacturers and distributors accountable whose corporate strategy was to push these opiates into our community for the sake of profit,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “They are drug pushers on a national level.”

Earlier this year the County Medical Examiner’s Office requested a $200,000 budget increase due to the opioid overdose epidemic. The County has needed to hire additional pathologists as others begin to exceed caseload limits set by the National Association of Medical Examiners.

Some of Cuyahoga County’s most vulnerable residents have become victims of the epidemic. Recent statistics from the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services show that over 2,000 children are currently in foster care in Cuyahoga County, the highest since 2011. This is directly related to the opioid epidemic as addicts either lose custody of their children or die, leaving orphans behind.

Cuyahoga County is seeking to recoup damages for monies paid for increased health services, law enforcement services, social services, and other expenditures required by the opioid epidemic.

Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC is the national counsel leading the lawsuit, alongside local counsel, Plevin & Gallucci Company, L.P.A. and the Cuyahoga County Department of Law. The attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC have been appointed leadership roles in pharmaceutical litigations nationwide.

The lawsuit has been filed with the State Court and the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.