At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, it was announced that Contra Costa County plans to join a consortium of more than 25 California counties, as well as hundreds of other municipalities throughout the United States, to initiate litigation against the drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic that has destroyed so many lives across the country and in Contra Costa County.
According to Health Services Director Anna M. Roth, “Contra Costa County experienced 53 deaths due to opioid-related overdoses in 2016, the most recent calendar year for which data is available. This represents a 7% increase from 2014 and translates into one death per week in Contra Costa County in 2016 due to opiate overdose. Opiates were promoted by manufacturers and distributors as being non-addictive and safe. Death related to opiate use is all the more tragic because it is preventable.”
Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Karen Mitchoff, noted: “This litigation is an important tool to help us recover the taxpayer funds currently being used and desperately needed to intervene and try to counteract the opioid epidemic.”
The intended lawsuit will include a cost recovery action to reimburse the County for taxpayer funds that already have been spent responding to this epidemic, as well as the local costs of continuing the fight, including emergency response, prevention, monitoring and treatment; and equitable relief to help alleviate opioid use dependence, fund local action to resolve this crisis, and try to undo some of the widespread damage that these drug manufacturers and distributors have caused.
The expected defendants include drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Teva Ltd., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Allergan PLC, and Mallinckrodt, as well as the nation’s three largest drug distributors, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp.