ASHLAND Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods told Ashland Rotarians on Monday the county’s lawsuit against mass opioid distributors is about seeking to remedy a “public nuisance.”
The Boyd County Fiscal Court recently agreed to plan to join multiple other counties in Kentucky and West Virginia in partnering with Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, a Huntingtonbased law firm, to sue the distributors.
Woods said the opioid epidemic was started by pharmaceutical companies for profit. In turn, it led those addicted to look to harder drugs, including heroin, when the “pill mills” were shut down.
“This lawsuit is not on behalf of the drug user who’s going here and buying heroin. It’s on behalf of you, the taxpayers of Boyd County who are footing the bill for all these problems that have been created by this epidemic,” said Woods.
The Daily Independent recently reported Greene Ketchum would work with the county on a contingency basis, meaning the county would not be responsible for legal fees in any suit against wholesale opioid distributors. The firm would receive 30 percent of any damages won, but won’t charge the county if no damages are awarded.
If the counties win their suit, they will be reimbursed for the burden placed on their budgets caused by monetary damages.
“This is not a frivolous, meritless suit,” said Woods, adding that by federal law, wholesale distributers are required to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids.
Through local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Woods said the county has the ability to seek and obtain Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders
System data. ARCOS is an automated, comprehensive drug reporting system that monitors the flow of DEA-controlled substances from their point of manufacture through commercial distribution channels to point of sale or distribution at the dispensing/retail level.
Attorney General Andy Beshear also announced on Monday his office is filing a complaint against Endo Pharmaceuticals, a drug manufacturer and maker of Opana ER, an extended- release opioid.
Beshear said the opioid is responsible for more than 190 Kentucky deaths in 2016.
“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention tied the 2015 HIV outbreak specifically to the injection of Opana ER,” a release from the Attorney General’s Office said.
Out of 220 counties in the country identified as high risk for a similar outbreak, 54 were in Kentucky, with the majority in the eastern part of the state.
Beshear said this is the first of a series of lawsuits that are a part of a strategy to help combat the opioid crisis.