Spokane County moves ahead with lawsuit against drug makers

Spokane County moves ahead with lawsuit against drug makers

Spokane County Board of Commissions voted unanimously Tuesday to join a nationwide lawsuit against the companies that make prescription opioid drugs, claiming those companies knowingly lied about the addictive potential of their powerful painkillers.

The county commissioners say that Spokane County has had to pay a high price for widespread opioid addiction. The county saw 64 people die of opioid overdose in 2016. Additionally, Spokane County’s death rate from opioids is one of the highest in the state of Washington, at 8.8 deaths per 100,000 people, each year, between 2012 and 2016

Spokane is not the first municipality to get involved in the fight about drug companies. The city of Tacoma filed suit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, last September. The suit said manufacturers lied to doctors and patients through a “program of marketing and advertising, without proper evidence to back up their claims.

That suit has been combined with other pending lawsuits against drug makers and sent to a single federal court, the Northern District of Ohio.

Chair of the Spokane County Commissioners, John Kerns, stated, “This effort is part of our commitment to build a Spokane County where citizens chose to live, build a career and grow a family. This is a complicated issue and we must hold those responsible for the crisis accountable. Spokane County citizens shouldn’t have to foot the bill.”