County may join opioid lawsuits

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018


The Covington County Commission is considering joining other municipalities and health care organizations in Alabama that have filed federal lawsuits against companies that manufacture prescription opioids.

The lawsuits, many of which have been consolidated, seek to hold pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors accountable for failing to comply with the federal Controlled Substances Act, which requires them to “monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.”

The damages sought are intended to help repay costs incurred by government entities related to the opioid epidemic.

Opioid drugs, which are painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl are the most prescribed class of medication in the United States. There were more than 5.3 million prescriptions written in 2015 in Alabama alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Alabama has the highest per capita level of prescription opioid use in the United States, according to Castlight Health Reports.

The commission tabled the issue to give Stephanie Cotton, the county attorney, a chance to completely understand what the county would be getting into.

Both Birmingham and Mobile have filed cases in U.S. District Court. The city of Gadsden, Etowah County, Tallapoosa County, the city of Fort Payne, the town of Cherokee, city of Greenville, Houston County and city of Opp have joined the suits.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved an out-of-state travel request for commissioners and other staff members to travel to the NACo (National Association of Counties) conference.
  • Approved a two-year extension contract on tag line software for the probate office.
  • Approved the purchase of four replacement trucks for the engineering department.
  • Agreed to solicit bids for safety equipment including an x-ray baggage machine and a security wand, for the courthouse.
  • Agreed to apply for grant funding for a new Emergency Management Agency emergency operations shelter.