Brown County committees recommend joining opioid lawsuit

Brown County logo. (WLUK)

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WLUK) -- Brown is close to becoming the latest Wisconsin county to join a lawsuit targeting drug makers.

The counties believe the companies' marketing campaigns led to the opioid epidemic. However, the companies targeted say that isn't the case.

Brown County’s executive committee unanimously approved a resolution to join the lawsuit, making it the second committee to do that in the past week. The full county board still needs to approve the move.

With no out of pocket costs, Brown County Corporation Counsel David Hemery sees little downside to joining the other counties in the lawsuit.

“The cost I see into joining this is more in time and resources,” said Hemery.

Online records show 48 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are part of the federal lawsuit targeting a handful of large drug makers. A majority of the counties in our area are already part of the suit, which accuses the companies of making false claims about the dangers of opioids in order to make a profit.

“There is really not any area that you can think of that this opioid crisis does not effect,” said Hemery.

According to Hemery, among the areas impacted in Brown County include increased crime, jail overcrowding, more need for human services, and foster care for children of drug abusers.

The companies named in the lawsuit have said they are not to blame.

“We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense,” read a statement from Purdue Pharma, one of the companies named in the suit.

Endo Health Solutions issued a statement saying its “top priorities include patient safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe and effective therapeutic options.”

“If we are able to succeed in a lawsuit and if we are able to bring anything back to the county, hopefully it can be put into other treatment or prevention programs for this,” said Patrick Buckley, a Brown County supervisor.

Hemery estimates a resolution to the suit could take two or three years.

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