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Madera County Joins Legal Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

MADERA – Madera County has taken an important step in the fight against the national and statewide opioid crisis, say County officials.

On May 1, the Board of Supervisors joined several other counties in retaining a group of law firms, including national law firm Baron & Budd, to initiate litigation against manufacturers and distributors they deem responsible for the opioid epidemic. The lawsuits filed will attempt to recover taxpayer dollars spent on dealing with the massive problem.

“The health and safety of the public is of utmost importance to the Madera County Board of Supervisors,” says Board Chairman Tom Wheeler. “As the governing body of this great county, we need to take whatever steps necessary to help protect our residents and future generations.”

Madera County joins a consortium of 30 California counties that are working together to take a stand for communities and counties that represent approximately ten-and-a-half million California residents. All 30 counties are filing suit in federal court, according to Madera County Counsel Regina Garza, and expect their cases to be transferred into the Multi-District Litigation in Ohio, where over 500 public entities have filed similar suits. The intended legal action will include a taxpayer and cost recovery action in addition to equitable relief to help mitigate and prevent current and future problems.

“This litigation seeks to recover taxpayer funds used to respond to the opioid epidemic,” says Garza. “Local government services have been unfairly subsidizing the impact of the opioid epidemic, which was created by multi-billion dollar corporations whose irresponsible actions placed profit over public safety.”

The California Opioid Consortium (COC) and its counsel say they have compelling evidence that many of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids and deliberately misinformed doctors by claiming that patients using the drugs rarely experience addiction.

The expected manufacturer Defendants include Purdue Pharma; Teva Ltd. (which acquired pharmaceutical maker Cephalon, Inc. in 2011); Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson); Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Allergan PLC; and Mallinckrodt.

Drugs manufactured by these companies include, but are not limited to OxyContin, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Nucynta, Nucynta ER, Opana/Opana ER, Percodan, Percocet, Zydone, Kadian and Norco.

The COC will seek recovery from three of the nation’s largest drug distributors – Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. The lawsuit claims they failed to monitor, identify and report “suspicious” opioid shipments to pharmacies, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The suit also names other large national distributor/ retailers.

The County’s entire legal team includes the law firms of Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Powell & Majestro; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; McHugh Fuller Law Group. The firms currently represent over 300 cities and counties throughout the United States.

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