Twenty-eight Wisconsin counties are suing prescription opioid manufacturers — companies that make painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet.
They want to recoup the cost of treating drug addiction. The counties say fraudulent marketing of prescription painkillers caused the problem — and that the drug makers should pay.
One of the attorneys handling the cases is Krista Baisch, with the Milwaukee-area law firm Crueger Dickinson. She says the epidemic has had enormous economic impact on the counties who have already filed lawsuits – as well as others.
“They are suffering extraordinary expenses as a result of this epidemic,” Baisch says.
Some of the costs associated with opioid abuse include childcare for drug-addicted parents, jail costs, sheriff overtime, administration of the opioid-remedy Narcan and court costs for drug-related crimes.
Rock County is one of the 28 counties that have filed lawsuits. County attorney Rick Greenlee says, like other counties, they’ve been hard-hit by the epidemic and its costly side effects.
“We’re hoping to recuperate some of the costs that taxpayers are having to endure for the treatment of these opioid addictions which have really corrosive and devastating effects on sometimes the poorest of our communities,”
Defendants include Purdue Pharma and Johnson and Johnson, among other drug manufacturers.
Dane County is not one of the 28 counties suing the companies, but Baisch says they’ll likely follow suit in the near future.
Most of Dane County’s neighboring counties — including Iowa, Sauk, Columbia, Green and Jefferson have already filed lawsuits.
Beyond Wisconsin, county and state governments across the country are trying to recoup the damages of the opioid epidemic from big pharma.