St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann announced today the County has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors for their aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioid painkillers that has led to a drug epidemic throughout the County and nationwide.
“There has been both a human and financial cost to this epidemic,” says County Executive Steve Ehlmann. “I think just about every family in our county has been affected by this epidemic or knows a family who has been.” Ehlmann says that, aside from the human cost, “St. Charles County taxpayers have experienced costs and losses directly related to the actions of these drug companies. The opioid crisis has reshaped the daily reality in our County in numerous ways, putting a greater demand on law enforcement, health services, corrections and the courts. County government has also expended dollars on community education programs and programs to treat those with opioid-related addiction.”
The county seeks relief in the complaint that includes compensatory and punitive damages for the millions of dollars it spends each year to combat the public nuisance created by the drug companies’ deceptive marketing campaign that misrepresented the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use.
The County’s lawsuit seeks to hold the defendants responsible for what many are calling the worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history. The county was the first in the St. Louis region to train its police, sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers to administer Naloxone (Narcan) and is seeking to recover those costs. According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, St. Charles County had 301 deaths due to opioid overdoses from 2013-2017. Missouri is one of the 20 worst states for drug overdose deaths.