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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 1:00 am

Scott County suing opioid manufacturers

Scott County, Indiana, became the face of the nation's opioid epidemic with an HIV outbreak in 2015.

Now the county has sued two drug manufacturers it alleges are responsible for the scourge. The Scott County Board of Commissioners filed suit this month against Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals, charging the companies “began a marketing scheme designed to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for chronic pain.” The companies, manufacturers of Oxycontin and Percocet, spent millions of dollars on marketing and promotional activities, according to the lawsuit.

“The reason for the suit is the devastating nature of what's happened in our county, almost compared with anything else in the world per capita,” said Bob Houston, the Scottsburg attorney representing Scott County in its suit.  The county seeks to recover economic damages related to the ongoing epidemic and HIV outbreak, including costs for public safety, detention, EMS services, medical treatment and more.

The states of Ohio, Kentucky, New Hampshire and South Carolina also have filed suit against pharmaceutical companies, in lawsuits patterned after those targeting tobacco manufacturers in the 1990s. Indiana has yet to join the class-action suits.