Summit County communities sue drug companies over opioid epidemic

AKRON, Ohio-- More than a dozen Summit County communities filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against 11 opioid manufacturers and three distributors.

The suit accuses the companies of unfair and deceptive marketing of opioids, leading to a public nuisance. Officials announced the suit during a news conference on Thursday.

Overdose is the leading cause of death in Ohio for people under the age of 55, Summit County officials said. Most of the overdose fatalities involve opioids.

The number of oxycodone, hydrocodone, heroin and fentanyl overdoses is so high that the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office requested a refrigerated trailer to use as a "mobile morgue." In October, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro declared a state of emergency because of the crisis.

"This holiday season, too many children are without their parents, too many mothers and fathers are without their sons and daughters and many, many others are desperately struggling to get their lives back on track. All of these heart-wrenching stories originate at the hands of opioid manufacturers and distributors," Shapiro said in a news release on Thursday.

Akron, Barberton, Boston Heights, Boston Township, Clinton, Copley Township, Coventry Township, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Lakemore, Mogadore, Munroe Falls, Norton, Peninsula, Richfield, Silver Lake, Springfield Township, Stow and Tallmadge are also involved in the lawsuit.

"This suit is about accountability. Those who we alleged are responsible for creating this crisis must be held responsible for, and help shoulder the costs of the enormous harm they have created," Barberton Mayor Bill Judge said.

Named in the suit are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; Purdue Frederick Company Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA; Cephalon, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and Insys Therapeutics, Inc., as well as McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Cardinal Health, Inc.

In May, Ohio became the second state to file suit against drug companies for downplaying the risks of Oxycontin and Percocet. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that lead to people seeking cheaper and more accessible ways of dealing with chronic pain and addiction, like heroin.

For more information on dealing with heroin and opioid addiction, click here