Chicago Area Officials Demand Accountability For Drug Makers 'Complicit' In Opioid Crisis

Chicago Area Officials Demand Accountability For Drug Makers 'Complicit' In Opioid Crisis

Chicago Area Officials Demand Accountability For Drug Makers 'Complicit' In Opioid Crisis

Officials in the one of the nation's largest counties filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging that major prescription drug manufacturers were "complicit" in the opioid crisis and should pay monetary damages for the public health costs.

As of the start of December, there have been 847 documented opioid-related deaths this year, the county said.

Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, joins an increasing number of cities, states and counties suing drug manufacturers amid the United States's spiraling opioid epidemic.

State's Attorney Kim Foxx called the human cost of the opioid crisis "truly staggering".

In 2015, 647 people died in Cook County as the result of a drug overdose involving opioids, according to the county medical examiner. In 2016, opioid-related overdoses increased by 70 percent to 1,091 in the county. "This is a public health crisis affecting almost every community in the County for which we must find a solution", Toni Preckwinkle, president of the county's board of commissioners, said in a press release announcing Wednesday's lawsuit. Representatives of the companies have defended their actions.

A spokeswoman for Janssen told the Chicago Tribune last week that the suburban lawsuits were "both legally and factually unfounded" and that "independent surveillance data" showed the company had a low rate of abuse with its medications.

Cook County's lawsuit is one of many such cases that municipalities and states across the country have brought forward this year. The company agreed to pay IL to settle allegations that it deceptively marketed and sold a prescription opioid drug for uses that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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