Wyoming tribe’s opioid lawsuit merged with Ohio case


RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming tribe’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers has been consolidated with hundreds of other similar cases in a federal court in Ohio.

The lawsuit by the Northern Arapaho Tribe and lawsuits from two other American Indian tribes were consolidated with the other cases this past week, The Riverton Ranger reported .

Northern Arapaho Business Council chairman Roy Brown said last month that any money won during the lawsuit will be used “as a way to get some resources here to address the epidemic.”

Defendants in the Arapaho suit include six opioid manufacturers and three distributers. The suit alleges that pharmaceutical companies have profited by intentionally flooding the market with opioids by misleading doctors and the general public about the risks of opioid addiction.

According to the lawsuit, the tribe has seen “child welfare and foster care costs associated with opioid-addicted parents skyrocket, their health services have been overwhelmed, education and addiction therapy costs have substantially increased, and almost every tribal member has been affected.”

The tribe’s lawsuit alleges that, despite the body of medical research indicating numerous risks associated with opioid use, all defendants “developed a well-funded marketing scheme based on deception to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for treatment of chronic pain.”

Those promotional schemes included direct-to-physician marketing, materials speaker programs and webinars, and “false or misleading unbranded advertisements.”

Cleveland-based Judge Dan Polster has issued an order scheduling three trials in the case for 2019.

The nation’s opioid crisis killed 42,000 Americans in 2016 with the death toll rising even as patients are being prescribed fewer opioid painkillers. The crisis is complicated with many people becoming addicted to prescription opioids before switching to heroin or deadlier synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.

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Information from: The (Riverton, Wyo.) Ranger, http://www.dailyranger.com