SPOKANE, Wash - The City of Spokane says the community has been "deeply affected" by the opioid crisis and it wants drug makers and distributors to pay for the impact on the city.
In a 141-page federal lawsuit filed this week, the city says the opioid epidemic was "no accident" and accuses companies like Walgreens, Endo Health, CVS and Johnson & Johnson of conspiring to get people addicted to the powerful drugs.
The suit accuses the defendants of gross negligence, racketeering and other crimes and demands a jury trial on all charges.
The city says it has resources to deal with the crisis, but that "fully addressing the crisis requires those responsible for it to pay for their conduct and to abate the nuisance and harms they have caused in Spokane."
Those impacts include a strain on law enforcement, increased danger to fire crews, an impact on parks and rec due to the presence of syringes and "the next generation of Spokane residents, who are growing up in the shadow of the opioid epidemic."
The suit claims the "opioid epidemic is no accident... it is the forseeable consequence of Defendants' reckless and misleading promotion of potent narcotics as safe and effective treatment for pain and their relentless distribution of hundreds of millions of pills into American communities when they knew or should have known those pills were being diverted to illicit use."
The lawsuit says that between 2002-2004 and 2011-2013, the number of opioid-use treatment admissions rose 188.1%. It also says that between 2008 and 2010, 142 people died from opioid-related deaths in Spokane County. That number rose to 215 deaths between 2012 and 2016.
The suit also claims that in 20016, one out of every 20 high school students in Spokane County reported using prescription opioids to get high in the last 30 days.
The lawsuit also says opioids have contributed to the increase in homeless people in Spokane.
Spokane is not the first community to sue over the opioid crisis. In August, for example, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 milion to the state of Oklahoma.
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