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Crime and Courts

Sedgwick County Opens Door For Potential Lawsuit Against Opioid Distributors

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Sedgwick County is considering filing a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

Commissioners are looking at litigation as one way to combat the opioid crisis they say is worsening in Sedgwick County. They recently declared the opioid epidemic as a "public nuisance" that has caused a health and safety crisis.

Read the commission's resolution here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016, there were 99.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in Sedgwick County—about 30 percent higher than the national average. The Sedgwick County Division of Health says deaths related to opioid use are going up locally, while the rate statewide has remained constant for the past five years.

“The fact is, we’ve got something going on, and somehow we've got to get a handle on this," says Commissioner Jim Howell.

The potential lawsuit would be on the basis that distributors aren’t monitoring suspicious drug orders under state and federal law.

“As we go forward here, whether we join this lawsuit or not ... I think this litigation will happen," Howell says. "I think controls will be enforced going forward.”

Kansas is already involved in a multi-state investigation into companies that produce and distribute opioids.

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Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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