By Dave Maxwell
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that there are more than 130 opioid overdose fatalities every day in the U.S.
In addition to changing the way physicians prescribe painkillers and educating the public about the dangers of these drugs, one of the keys to preventing further opioid deaths is ensuring that those who suffer from opioid addiction seek further treatment in a proper facility.
That begs the question, which states are equipped to handle the opioid epidemic?
Nationwide, there are multiple lawsuits being filed that could force drug manufacturers and distributors to pay for a crisis they helped cause.
One report states, “It’s impossible to talk about the causes of America’s opioid epidemic without pointing to the manufacturers and distributors that marketed and proliferated dangerous opioid painkillers. Yet for much of the crisis, these multibillion dollar opioid companies have avoided much in the way of serious accountability.”
Hence, numerous lawsuits are before the courts, including some that Nevada and Lincoln County want to pursue.
At the Oct. 21 county commission board meeting, members voted to proceed with their own lawsuit and claims independently against the opioid manufacturers/distributors.
District Attorney Dylan Frehner said he has spoken with a law firm out of Ohio that was “retained by Lincoln County about a year and a half ago.”
Frehner said a judge in Ohio is trying to make this a class action lawsuit. “If we all get included in this class, the potential damages that we would recover would be between $13,000 and $15,000.”
However, Frehner said the Ohio law firm “feels that amount is too small as they believe the damages for Nevada are much higher and feel Nevada is one of the top four states in regards to the opioid epidemic. They feel there are a lot more remedies out there if we continue with our own case.”
Frehner recommended Lincoln County opt out of the class action lawsuit, take the money offered, then join with other Nevada counties in moving forward with their own independent lawsuits.
The motion was approved by all commissioners present at the meeting.
According to a published report of a study done recently by ValuePenguin Research of New York, Nevada ranks tenth as the state least equipped to handle the opioid epidemic. Nevada currently has 13 deaths per 100,000 residents and only two treatment centers per 100,000 residents. That means, on average, there are five deaths per treatment center in the state.
States that are most prepared to address the opioid epidemic have three deaths or less per 100,000 residents and double or triple the treatment centers per 100,000 residents. Although this does not guarantee success, the study noted, being better equipped helps states to evaluate the opioid crisis and proceed with a course of action to combat it.