City to join opiate suit

Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas announced Friday that, like the County, the City will also be considering lawsuits against wholesale distributors of opioid medications.

“I saw your article online regarding the County joining the opioid litigation,” Haas commented to the Daily Times. “Please note that Council has been presented a Resolution to add to the agenda for Monday night’s Council meeting regarding the City joining the suit as well.”

Last week, Scioto County Commissioners reported that they would be filing lawsuits against wholesale distributors, who had previously thought themselves exempt from prosecution for the opioid epidemic that continues to do so much damage in the region.

These public nuisance lawsuits are part of a full on attack against the companies that aided in the distribution of unreal quantities of opioid medications — enough for each man, woman and child in Scioto County to receive 123 doses each in 2010. Though the prescribers are already paying for their part in the epidemic, communities in West Virginia have been going up the chain and suing wholesalers and winning.

This push for accountability reaches as far as the State, who is taking on big manufactures such as Perdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson.

The resolution being presented to Council Monday night will “declare that opiate abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality is a serious public health crisis in the CITY and is a public nuisance; and further, to authorize the City Manager, Derek K. Allen, to enter into an agreement retaining the law firms of Lancione & Lancione, LLC and Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, LLC, on a contingent fee basis, to investigate and hold accountable those in the chain of distribution, including the wholesale distributors, who caused this public nuisance and abate the same by seeking all civil remedies which may be afforded under Ohio law. John A. Lancione and Paul Farrell, Jr. shall serve as lead counsel.”

Lancione & Lancione, LLC and Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, LLC, will also be representing the County.

The resolution further explained, “Whereas, recent media sources have documented the role of the wholesale distributors in contributing to this public health crisis by refusing to abide by federal regulations specifically designed to prevent the diversion of prescription opiates into the illicit market.”

Council will vote on the resolution at 6 p.m., Monday in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Courthouse located at 728 Second St., in Portsmouth.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.