Anderson County considers joining Opioid lawsuit


Anderson County Council is contemplating joining other Upstate counties in bringing a lawsuit against major pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the country and the state.
Greenville and Spartanburg counties approved legal action against the companies earlier this week, and Anderson is expected to follow suit once the council members have studied the proposal more closely. The statistics supporting the decision are shocking. Anderson County had twenty deaths due to opioid overdoses in 2016. Another 265 potential overdoses were prevented by the administration of doses of NARCAM, a drug developed for just such a use.
Over prescribing opioids is a major issue in the county with ninety four prescriptions written per one hundred residents in the county in 2016. In previous years, the number of prescriptions issued actually exceeded the number of people who lived in the county.
The ramifications of the problem are far reaching. Anderson County has one of the highest rates of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, with almost seven out of every thousand babies born in the county being addicted to opioids.
County administrator Rusty Burns stressed that Anderson does not intend to join a class action suit with other counties, or to file suit in federal court. “We hope to try this case at the local level, before a local jury that can see the immense impact this problem has on our community. If we can establish malicious intent by these companies, we will be seeking damages. That money will in turn be used for education about opioid use and for funding addiction programs.”
More than 200 cases filed by counties elsewhere in the nation were consolidated at the end of last year and presented to U.S. District Judge Daniel Polster, of the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. In a preliminary hearing held in January the judge made it clear that a long drawn out litigation was not his goal. “We have to do something to drastically reduce the number of pills that are circulating. That is my purpose.”