The County and Hagerstown are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Hagerstown, Md (KM) The opioid statistics for Washington County are rather grim, according to attorney Bruce Poole, who released those numbers during a news conference on Monday. “And we now know that from the period of 2006 to 2012, over 55-million doses of opioids were brought into the county,” he says, noting that Washington County’s population is just over 147,000. “55-million doses for 147,000 people, it’s no wonder we’ve got a problem.”
Opioids include such drugs as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are prescribed by physicians to patients to help them control their pain. But too often these patients become addicted to these drugs, and that can lead to death.
Poole is representing Washington County and the City of Hagerstown in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, who he says helped fuel this crisis. “The manufacturers realized they were on to something that’s a hot commodity. They were selling them faster than potato chips. They were making tremendous amounts of money. And unfortunately, they decided to throw public safety aside,” he says.
Poole says the distributors were no different. “The distributors did the same thing and they made a tremendous amount of money. But that money was really on the backs of people who became addicted and literally on the graves of a lot who have now died,” says Poole.
This lawsuit is similar to other lawsuits filed by municipalities and counties against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Poole says the cases have been filed in federal court, and they’ve been transferred to a multi-jurisdictional court in Ohio. And that’s where the first trials will be held in October.
The national trial team has been employed by the State of Nevada to try a case at the same time, and that will focus on the distributors. “A lot of the distributors claim they’re not involved, but the evidence certainly points the other way,” Poole says.
In addition to Washington County and Hagerstown, Poole says he also represents the cities of Cumberland and Frostburg , along with Allegany and St. Mary’s Counties in lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Last year, the City of Frederick and Frederick County filed suit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids.
By Kevin McManus