The suit, described as unique by state officials, names 59 companies and six individuals, including Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Endo, Janssen, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Arkansas ranks 2nd in the nation behind Alabama for misuse of opioids.
In what state officials described as unique among efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid epidemic, 72 counties and 210 cities in Arkansas have banded together to file a single lawsuit against the drug industry.
The suit represents 90 percent of the state’s population, according to a statement released to the press Wednesday.
“Instead of fighting and competing with each other on critically needed settlement dollars for our cities and counties, all of the cities and counties are working together to do what’s best for Arkansas,” said Chris Villines, executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties.
The lawsuit names 59 companies and six individuals, including Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Endo, Janssen, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas ranks second in the nation for ages 12-17 in misuse of opioids—behind Alabama, which is also the only other state with a higher opioid-prescribing rate than Arkansas.
The number of fatal drug overdoses in the state has increased by 300 percent since 2000, according to the statement.
“Neither the state or any county or city is big enough alone; this litigation approach ensures that recovered damages remain in Arkansas,” said Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League.