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County joins opioid suit

By CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The County Commission agreed to join national class act litigation against several opioid pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The State of Alabama filed a lawsuit on Tues., Feb. 6, against the manufacturer of OxyContin and other opioids, becoming the latest state seeking to hold drug companies accountable for an addiction epidemic.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed the lawsuit in Montgomery federal court against Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its branches. The lawsuit claims the manufacturer engaged in deceptive marketing practices that misled patients and doctors about the benefits of the drugs and the risks of addiction to the powerful painkillers.

The state is seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief, and Marshall said in a press release that he expects the suit will be transferred to Ohio as part of the national multi-district litigation.

“Based on the recent events of this opioid epidemic, I think it’s smart that we join this litigation,” County Attorney Stephanie Cotton said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama ranks first in the nation in the number of painkiller prescriptions per capita. Alabama had more than 5.8 million opioid prescriptions written in 2015. That equates to a rate of 1.2 prescriptions per person, the highest rate in the country. By comparison, the national per capita was 0.71 in 2015.

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

The County Commission also:

  • Approved a Mediacom contract for the county jail.
  • Considered a contract with Zuercher to provide and maintain a server and software for the sheriff’s department.
  • Approved the Annual Tax Levy FY19.
  • Approved the Annual FY19 County Levies for alcohol licensing.
  • Considered having a written agreement with the Kiwanis Foundation instead of only a verbal agreement regarding the use of the Covington Center Arena.
  • Awarded a bid for steel piling.
  • Approved the purchase of three vehicles for the sheriff’s department coming out of the County Commission funding.