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Daviess County declines to jump into opioid lawsuit

By MIKE GRANT - Washington Times Herald

Cities and counties around Indiana appear to be lining up to get in on a class action lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies in connection with the opioid problem in the state. But currently it does not appear Daviess County will be one of those jumping into the litigation.

“We’ve just tabled it for now,” said Daviess County Commissioner Michael Taylor.

“It’s complicated,” added President of the Commissioners Nathan Gabhart. “As a pharmacist, I probably have a different viewpoint. It just seems like there is very little self-accountability today. That’s my main issue. As pharmacists and doctors, we all know how addictive these medications are. I also know how effective they are for pain relief. I’ve never had chronic pain, but I’ve known people who have and some would take death over chronic pain and these medications fix that.”

Still Gabhart says he recognizes there are some people who struggle with addictive nature of the drugs.

“Others use these as a drug of choice because it is easier to get them than heroin or methamphetamines,” he said. “Since there are billions of dollars in this industry, it is easier to go after the money because some people choose to abuse these medications.”

Noblesville, Terre Haute, Vigo and Jennings Counties this week filed federal lawsuits against more than 20 defendants accusing them of racketeering, deceptive trade practices, fraud and conspiracy to market and distribute opioids unlawfully in their communities.

Other communities involved in the suit include Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Hammond, Bloomington, Columbus, Muncie, New Albany, Jeffersonville, Kokomo and Lake and Monroe Counties.

The defendants include some of the biggest names in drug manufacturing including Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Daviess County officials say the are reluctant to get involved in a problem that is about more than the drug companies.

“I think the only people that are going to get rich off of this are the lawyers,” said Taylor. “There are doctors pushing them. I’m up in the air about pursuing it.”

“There was nothing misleading there,” added Gabhart. “The doctors and pharmacists knew how addictive they are. I’m not for joining in with the ambulance chaser lawyers who are going to get rich off of this.”

Indianapolis attorney Chou-il Lee tells the Terre Haute Tribune-Star the federal complaints will be consolidated into multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Ohio.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.