On Tuesday the Spokane County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of directing staff to work with other counties across the state to bring forward a lawsuit on behalf of Spokane County against manufacturers and wholesalers of prescription opioid pain killers. The county said the decision comes as a direct result of the ongoing opioid crisis.
As a result of that nationwide crisis, Spokane County has had to deal with the effects of widespread opioid addiction. Local stats indicate that in 2016 alone, 64 people died in the county because of an opioid overdose. The county reports that additionally, the death rate due to opioids is one of the highest in the state of Washington, at 8.8 deaths per 100,000 people from 2012-2016.
The CDC recently estimated that the total economic burden of prescription opioid abuse costs the U.S. $78.5 billion annually. That includes significantly increased costs for healthcare and additional treatment as well as dramatic increases in strains on human services and criminal justice systems, as well as substantial loss in workforce productivity.
The county says the lawsuit will be filed as soon as information and data is gathered. The county is working with the firm Keller Rohrback LLP to investigate potential claims against manufacturers and wholesalers.
“This effort is part of our commitment to build a Spokane County where citizens chose to live, build a career and grow a family. This is a complicated issue and we must hold those responsible for this crisis accountable. Spokane County citizens shouldn’t have to foot the bill,” said Chair of Spokane County Commissioners, Josh Kerns.
(story: Matt Pusatory, KHQ Local News Web Producer; image: KHQ.com)