Bernalillo County to sue drug companies over opioid addiction | KOB 4
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Bernalillo County to sue drug companies over opioid addiction

J.R. Oppenheim
September 06, 2017 10:23 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In the battle against opioid addiction, the Bernalillo County Commission says it will take pharmaceutical companies to court.

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Commissioners voted to pursue a lawsuit against those companies who make prescription opioids. The lawsuit has not yet been filed, but the commissioners in a closed meeting last week decided to advance a request for proposal in finding a law firm.

Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with the suit.

"Bernalillo County is heavily impacted by the opioid crisis, and it’s devastating our community," Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley said. "We’ve seen an increase in opioid-related crime, which in turn drives up the cost of public safety. It’s time to hold the drug companies accountable."

The commissioners claim drug companies use "misleading marketing practices" regarding pain medications and don't fully address their addictive nature. The county will seek changes to those practices and compensation for costs in dealing with opioids.

County figures state 374 people in Bernalillo County died as a result of opioid overdoses from 2013 to 2015, including 185 from pain pills. Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins called it a public health crisis and blames prescription opioids for Bernalillo County having "one of the highest overdose rates in the United States."

"I hope this lawsuit will drive change in the prescribing and marketing practices that have harmed so many families in our community and driven up law enforcement and healthcare costs across New Mexico,” she said.

Mora County has also filed a lawsuit against drug companies about opioids.

On Thursday, Attorney General Hector Balderas will announce the state will pursue a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors regarding opioids. That press conference is slated for noon.

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J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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