The growing problem of opioid addiction and overdose deaths was in the spotlight this week, as Minnesota officials announced new prescribing guidelines and a number of county attorneys sued opioid manufacturers and distributors. They allege drug makers ignored addiction hazards in a marketing push targeted at doctors. Washington County Attorney Pete Orput says, “All of this has been done in the name of outrageous profits, derived from the devastation that’s been perpetrated on our communities.” Officials expect more Minnesota counties to join the legal battle, likening it to lawsuits against the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
Experts say opioid addiction has become a public health crisis. County Attorney Orput echoes, “I gotta tell you it’s so bad that when my phone rings at night I go into post-traumatic stress ’cause it’ll be something like [Washington County] Sheriff [Dan] Starry calling and saying, another dead kid, Pete. Another dead kid. Well, how many’s enough?”