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Supervisors decline to join opioid lawsuit against drug makers

September 20, 2018

KINGMAN — Mohave County supervisors took no action Monday on joining a lawsuit against almost two dozen drug manufacturers and distributors.

The board tabled voting on joining 1,100 individual lawsuits funneled before a Northern Ohio judge, with four of the cases set for trial next September.

District 2 Sup. Hildy Angius used air quotes to describe the opioid crisis and said there is a lot of misinformation about it.

However, if there is money available from the lawsuit, the county should join to use that money for the health of its citizens, she said.

“I don’t like class action lawsuits, I don’t like multi-jurisdiction lawsuits but it’s going to happen,” Angius said in an address Wednesday to Colorado River Women’s Republican Club members. “I think that this is an exaggerated crisis and, as Buster Johnson said, greedy politicians are getting money — I do have mixed feelings about it and that this is one of those times as a politician that you have to put aside your personal feelings to do what is right for your constituents.”

The state legislature rushed to advance laws and Angius said at Monday’s supervisors meeting that she hopes Gov. Doug Ducey and the legislature will tweak the legislation so people who need pain medication will still be able to get it.

Angius said Arizona is a retirement state, Mohave County included, where older citizens with legitimate needs should be able to get their pain medication. The state has made it difficult for doctors and hospitals to prescribe pain medication, she said.

She also said she hears from veterans who need pain medication.

The supervisor from Bullhead City said that any harm suffered by the pharmaceutical industry would come back to hurt consumers.

Mohave County Civil Attorney Ryan Esplin said there are 25 defendants including Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. There would be no cost to Mohave County, but he admitted it is a political issue. He also said there is no guarantee that the county would receive any money with the resolution of the lawsuit.

District 3 Sup. Buster Johnson, who adamantly opposed joining the lawsuit, read an article from a Florida publication which called the lawsuit a money grab and shake down by politicians and trial lawyers who seek political attention.

The problem isn’t prescription drugs but drug pushers who push fentanyl and heroin, he said.

Only a small percentage of drug overdoses are from prescription drugs. Nine million Americans need prescription drugs to relieve pain including a 72-year old resident with chronic pain, who is made to feel like a drug user, Johnson said.

District 4 Sup. Jean Bishop of Kingman said that people in rural areas of the county have trouble getting their pain medications but she would like to see any money come back for drug treatment programs in the county.

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