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April 1, 2019

County files lawsuit against firms that make opioids

OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and other defendants “have caused an opioid epidemic that has resulted in economic, social and emotional damage to tens of thousands of Americans throughout virtually every community in the United States,” the lawsuit alleges.
It is hitting us hard — our fire and rescue and the sheriff’s office. Maybe this will send a message.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Fauquier County seeks $100 million in damages from drug manufacturers and distributors because of their involvement in the opioid abuse epidemic.

Three law firms represent the county in the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma — which makes prescription painkiller OxyContin — and dozens of other defendants, including pharmacy benefit managers.

The “defendants have caused an opioid epidemic that has resulted in economic, social and emotional damage to tens of thousands of Americans throughout virtually every community in the United States,” alleges the lawsuit, filed March 27 in Fauquier County Circuit Court. “It is indiscriminate and ruthless.”

> Lawsuit at bottom of story

Cities, counties, states and Native American tribes nationwide have filed more than 1,600 similar lawsuits against big drug companies. Purdue last week agreed to a $270-million, out-of-court settlement with the state of Oklahoma in the first major litigation of the issue.

“We are pleased to represent Fauquier County as it seeks to hold the defendants accountable for their reprehensible actions and recover the funds the county has spent to address the impact of the opioid crisis,” said the plaintiff’s lead lawyer Kevin H. Sharp, with the firm of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “Fauquier County’s citizens deserve justice for the harms inflicted upon them by the defendants and our respective firms are proud to take on this fight on their behalf.”

The law firms approached County Attorney Kevin Burke to determine whether Fauquier would consider legal action. After a closed session to discuss the potential litigation, the board of supervisors in February voted to join the effort.

If the county prevails, the three law firms would receive 25 percent of the award, plus costs, according to Mr. Burke.

The county would have no responsibility for the costs of litigation — with the possible exception of document production or administrative expenses, Mr. Burke said.

At first board of supervisors Chairman Chris Butler (Lee District) worried that litigation would result in higher prescription prices for Fauquier citizens, but the closed-door discussion with the lawyers convinced him that the county should sue.

The supervisors voted, 5-0, to file the suit.

“It is hitting us hard — our fire and rescue and the sheriff’s office,” Mr. Butler said. “Maybe this will send a message.”

Twenty people died last year of drug overdoses — most of them involving opioids — in Fauquier County. The county set a record with 22 drug-overdose deaths in 2016. The total fell to nine in 2017 before spiking again last year.

Joanne Cicala, whose Texas law firm also represents Fauquier, said: “The opioid epidemic is not accidental.  It is not a natural disaster.  It is a man-made crisis.  And worse – the companies that did this were not just seeking to build market share – they knew they were creating addicts.

“And now their scheme is costing Fauquier County and communities like it dearly — in so many ways.  It is fair for Fauquier County to respond by seeking to hold those responsible for the epidemic — those who continue to profit from it — accountable for its costs.”

Fauquier County v Purdue Ph... by on Scribd


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Jim Griffin · April 4, 2019 at 5:58 pm
Rover 530 · April 2, 2019 at 8:45 pm
Who is the "Sandler" family and what do they have to do with OxyContin?
Bekemp · April 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm
Read the book DREAMLAND ( get a better understanding of how Purdue Pharma and the Sandler family destroyed so many families and towns in America.
nkersey · April 2, 2019 at 10:44 am
I'm glad to see this lawsuit. While I agree with some of the comments on personal responsibility to avoid drug addiction, it's also clear that the pharma companies and distributors hid behind the letter of the law to reap huge profits. Hold them accountable.
BestKeptSecrets · April 2, 2019 at 6:30 am
FalconDad, we hear you and absolutely agree. Perhaps they do not want to know who the drugs are coming from!!! But perhaps it is a protective measure knowing what may happen to the drug user...???

There needs to be an inpatient program ?(Fauquier Hospital) that has an acute protocol which includes family, friends (maybe some codependency, enablers, rescuers). The inpatient acute program can start the weaning process which in and of itself is a high acuity for any family to endure.
Diaphoresis(sweating) causes electrolyte losses that can not be replenished to the extent needed at home. These losses and withdrawal from drugs can cause seizures so the patient ends up thinking it is better to just take the drug itself. IV banana bags use to be used back in the 60s and 70s when patients were admitted to acute setting. THe first 72 hours are crucial. The patients have severe insomnia. Nutritional support to help the liver purge needs to be pursued. Sweet potatoes, milk thistle, dandelion teas, liquid betonite clay, charcoal, niacin flushes have all proven to be helpful. These funds collected from the lawsuit can go directly into a fund and community networking with Fauquier Hospital for inpt stays. Social workers can be the catalyst to help with change for the entire family. Fauquier Hospital should be a part of this and not build another building. Just use the resources we have available. AA is one of the most successful programs in the world. It can be used too to help. Often patients are told to go for 30 straight days to AA groups within their general areas. AA members and families are very strong, supportive and push the envelope. More people have stayed sober (same principle with drug abuse or use). Help drug users start their withdrawal for the first three days and turn them over to a case manager. Often drug abuse starts post operatively because weaning was not started in the hospital and poor families have no clue what to do.... and how to help.
FalconDad · April 1, 2019 at 8:01 pm
Big difference between other counties and ours is that Fauquier doesn't directly spend money on Opioid dependence programs (inside jail or outside jail). At least none that are free to the drug users. Once arrested drug dependent folks leave the Fauquier jail they get a large bill from some group calling themselves Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services. If the county would spend money on the Opioid epidemic and stop having their drug dependent citizens pay for services the Fauquier jail orders for their inmates we could save some lives. Someone needs to make sure any law suit winnings go directly to fighting the Opioid epidemic Fauquier is experiencing and nothing else. To law enforcement, please ask users where they are buying their pills and follow-up please. Sometimes it's that simple. I had a family member that went through this and one question they ask themselves is 'why don't they ask where the pills came from?'.
BestKeptSecrets · April 1, 2019 at 6:04 pm
Thank you for going after the giant.
Unless you have been prescribed these awful medications, you have no idea how seriously addicting they are.
Patients are often prescribed these preoperatively. No one helps you through the withdrawals. It is horrific.
Sweating or diaphoresis that soaks sheets several times a night losing electrolytes that can not be replaced without IV therapy.
Insomnia so awful you are so sleep deprived you can't think straight.
Electrolytes that are depleted can cause irregular heart beats.
Hospitals should be ashamed in discharging without weaning patients from these horrible drugs. Sue them. It has affecting every facet of our community. THey should be put in jail for the harm it has done on our society and the deaths that it has caused.
Cammie Rodgers · April 1, 2019 at 5:18 pm
ResidentB - The Sandler family are legalized PUSHERS of a drug they KNEW could and did cause opioid dependence and abuse FOR A HUGE PROFIT to them, with no regard to the lives their were helping destroy. Then they came up with the idea to push the antidote to the drug. Get them coming and going.

I say go after the doctors that pushed this stuff too.
ResidentB · April 1, 2019 at 4:10 pm
Good grief. Unless they are selling pills directly to any yayhoo on the internet or are sloppy about security and they lose product from the factory or through lax shipping procedures, or selling to illegal distribution points, how, exactly, are they at fault? Reading the suit, I read many vague points. It's supply and demand. Go after the people demanding and not dispensing properly, not the manufacturer. Opioid consumption dangers are so well publicized these days, you'd have to be living under a rock not to know they exist. It's a good opioid pain killers existed when I had total knee replacements. Can't imagine life in the first couple of weeks post surgery without the short duration, heavy pain relief. They take your joint apart and put it back together again, for pete's sake. There's supposed to be 100% accountability for every dose of a controlled drug dispensed. So, my question is how do all the controlled drugs get on the illegal market? Is there a drive-up window direct at the manufactuerer's. It's not the manufacturing that's the problem, it's the oversight of distribution and lack of proper follow up by the medical communnity on their patients.
AngryBob · April 1, 2019 at 1:32 pm
Sounds like the county fell for a scam from a shady ambulance chaser. It's as dumb as suing gun manufacturers over murders. Disappointing.

It's virtually impossible for a normal person to get pain pills. They sent my wife home after major abdominal surgery with a hand full of Tylenol. And if you do get a prescription (or buy Sudafed, grrr...), you get registered with the police.

So the state police know exactly where every single pain pill goes and what doctor prescribed it. There should be no question whatsoever where these addicts are getting it. Go after those people.

Or don't. And let the problem solve itself.
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