County also sues drug manufacturers

LISBON — Drug manufacturers are being added to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Columbiana County commissioners against drug distributors.

Commissioners on Wednesday adopted a resolution amending their lawsuit to include drug manufacturers as well as distributors, which was done on the advice of attorney John Lancione, whose Cleveland-area law firm is serving as the board’s local counsel in the federal class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of numerous counties in Ohio and adjoining states.

The lawsuit was filed against three major drug wholesalers responsible for distributing 85 percent of all prescription opioid painkillers to doctors and pharmacies. The lawsuit alleges these companies contributed to the “public health and safety crisis” created by the opioid problem “by refusing to abide by federal regulations specifically designed to prevent the diversion of prescription opioids into the illicit market.”

In doing so, these distributors dumped millions of prescription opiates into communities across the county.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said after the meeting they received an email on Tuesday from Lancione advising them to add prescription opiate manufacturers based on what occurred in July, when it was announced that a $35 million settlement had been reached between the U.S. Justice Department and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. The drug manufacturer was accused of failing to report large quantities of oxycodone pills that ended up being diverted to black markets in Florida. After reviewing the allegations and the settlement, Halleck said the law firm concluded drug manufacturers contributed to the opioid crisis by violating federal reporting requirements and often working together with distributors.