36 Iowa counties file lawsuit against drug companies over opioid epidemic

Published: Jan. 5, 2018 at 6:45 PM CST
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Three dozen counties across Iowa are trying to stop the spread of opioid addiction at the root. These counties filed lawsuits Friday against drug companies for their marketing of opioids.

The lawsuits say companies, including Johnson & Johnson, have promoted that the benefits of prescription opioids outweigh the risks. These are the first filings in federal court against pharmaceutical manufacturers that address the opioid crisis.

"The results of the drug manufacturers' conduct is no different than the results caused by the street dealer," John Sarcone, Polk County Attorney said.

The counties included in this lawsuit are Adair, Adams, Audubon, Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Cedar, Clay, Clayton, Clinton, Dallas, Delaware, Fayette, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Johnson, Lee, Mahaska, Marion, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, O’Brien, Plymouth, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac, Scott, Shelby, Sioux, Taylor and Winneshiek. It's of note that Linn County is not on that list.

The lawsuits say prescription opioid deaths in Iowa have quadrupled in the last 20 years. Also, it says opioid-related emergency room visits have tripled over the last decade, and the opioid crisis has put a financial strain on Iowans because of excessive opioid prescriptions that lead to addiction.