County doing the right thing in lawsuit

Published 10:49 am Saturday, March 24, 2018

When local government does the right thing it deserves to be commended. That’s the case with Chambers County becoming a party in legal action against U.S. pharmaceutical companies because of the opioid problem.

On the local, state and national level, opioid addiction is a dire and heartbreaking reality. It’s a disgrace the role big pharma has played in it. There’s no way they can wash their hands of it and say that they didn’t know. Just like the big tobacco companies before them, they put profits over humanity.

One can’t help but ask the question, who has done more harm to their fellow man, the people who sell illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth and so on or those who have manufactured great quantities of addictive pain killers, knowing full well that what they were making went well beyond legitimate medicinal use. Just like tobacco companies, they had to know they were raking in piles of money off of addiction.

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Just as drug dealers have to kn0w that what they are pushing on the street ruins people’s lives, big pharma had to know this, too.

Chambers County Attorney Skip McCoy says that there is a benefit-risk assessment that’s involved.

“They want to see how much money they can make before they are exposed to liability,” he said. “The bad thing about opioid addiction is all the parallels that come off of it.  The user’s life is ruined, and more often than not, they are the head of a household. When they are strung out and can no longer support their family, it puts them in a bad situation. Children may commit crimes to support their family, and this winds up on the door of the court system.”

Due to budget cuts, the state of Alabama does not currently have the mental health services needed to deal with the kinds of problems posed by opioid addiction.

Alabama is a state that has been especially hard hit by opioid addiction. Four Alabama cities – Anniston, Gadsden, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa – rank among the top 15 places in the U.S. per capita in terms of opioid addiction.

There’s a trickle down factor here. The economic damage due to opioid addiction trickles down to the local taxpayer. State and local communities have to absorb higher costs for counseling, rehab services, the costs of taking care of children who are born with opioid-related medical conditions and the added costs of law enforcement to deal with these problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, opioid addiction has killed more than 180,000 people in the U.S. since 1999 and more than 40,000 last year alone.

It’s a deadly problem that’s not going to take care of itself by doing nothing.

That’s where the courts come it. They are the great levelers in our society. It’s through the justice system that each and every person matters. When little people are exploited by large corporations for profit, the court system is the only means of being able to do what’s right.

Thank you, Chambers County, for making a courageous stand for what’s right. Thank you for standing up for the people and not the large corporations.