Houston County, Alabama, is suing several manufacturers and distributors of highly addictive prescription painkillers alleging their actions are contributing to the national opioid epidemic, a public health and safety crisis. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama by Beasley Allen attorneys Rhon E. Jones, head of the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Ryan Kral.
“This is a crisis created by the pharmaceutical industry, which instead of investigating suspicious orders of prescription opiates, turned a blind eye in favor of making a profit,” Jones said. “They intentionally misled doctors and the public about the risks of these dangerous drugs, and municipal governments are left struggling to cope with the consequences.”
The news comes just days after Jones and colleagues filed a similar lawsuit against opioid makers and distributors on behalf of the City of Greenville in Alabama. Like Greenville, Houston County is located in South Alabama. The county has a population of more than 100,000, and its county seat is Dothan.
Alabama is not immune to the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. The state has the highest rate of prescription opioid use in the country with more prescriptions being written than people living in the state. Opioid overdoses in Alabama have increased in recent years with 282 deaths reported in 2015 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Houston County has felt its own adverse effects from the opioid crisis, suffering damages such as incurring the costs for providing medical care, therapeutic care and treatments for residents suffering from opioid addiction, including overdoses and deaths; costs for providing counseling and rehabilitation services; costs for treating infants born with opioid-related medical conditions; public safety and law enforcement expenses; and care for children whose parents suffer from disability or incapacitation from their addiction to the drugs.
Opioid makers and distributors named in the lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation.