On December 14, 2017, New Hanover County took a crucial step and filed a lawsuit against several of the country’s drug manufacturers and distributors.
The lawsuit holds five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies, and the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors, accountable for failing to do what they were charged with under the federal Controlled Substances Act: monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.
New Hanover County is joining a growing list of city and county governments across North Carolina and the country that are taking action against the drug manufacturers and distributors for fueling the opioid crisis in their communities.
According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services:
From 1999 to 2016 more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses. New Hanover County has been one of the hardest hit areas in the state.
Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in New Hanover County in 2016 exceeded the total county population, amounting to 1.3 opioid prescription for every man, woman and child.
Said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White:
“The residents of New Hanover County are bearing the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement continue to rise. New Hanover County has taken the formal action of suing the companies that are responsible for this destruction. The 120+ page filed lawsuit goes line by line, and specifically describes the laws that were violated, and the devastation that has taken place. New Hanover County aims to have this suit accomplish two things: require the responsible parties to pay our taxpayers for the monetary damages caused, and to force them to follow federal law so we can stem the tide of this horrible epidemic, and help save lives.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina’s Southern Division in Raleigh NC and may be viewed here (PDF). This is the first lawsuit of this type that New Hanover County has entered into.
New Hanover is one of the state’s coastal counties. The county seat is in Wilmington NC.
Source: Jessica Loeper, New Hanover County NC