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Monterey County Board of Supervisors joins consortium in lawsuit against opioid companies

, The CalifornianPublished 7:05 p.m. PT May 3, 2018

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors has retained a national law firm and joint venture of law firms to initiate litigation against manufacturers and distributors they say are responsible for the local and national opioid epidemic.

Joined together as a consortium, several dozen counties across the state intend to take “legal action that will include a taxpayer and cost recovery action in addition to equitable relief to help mitigate and prevent current and future problems,’ according to a press statement released by the county on Thursday.

“Doctors and patients were misled by the opioid manufacturers and our citizens are paying the price with uncontrolled addiction. The taxpayer funds used to respond to the opioid epidemic are substantial,” Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee wrote in a prepared statement.

“The County seeks to (recover) these costs because local government services have been subsidizing the impact of the opioid epidemic, which was created by irresponsible multi-billion dollar corporations which have placed profits over public safety.”

Monterey County pharmacies filled about 51 prescriptions for every 100 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s down from 68.7 prescriptions in 2012.

An average of 4.1 percent of people living in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito or Santa Cruz counties reported using illegal drugs other than marijuana between 2012 and 2014, according to regional estimates by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency. About 5.2 percent used opioid painkillers for non-medical reasons during that period, the most recent available.