JACKSBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Two Tennessee counties are suing pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic, joining governments around the country in using federal racketeering laws to try to hold drug manufacturers and distributors responsible.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that government leaders in Campbell and Scott counties have authorized filing lawsuits in U.S. District Court, with Campbell County filing earlier this year and Scott County filing last week.

Both east Tennessee counties have logged more opioid prescriptions than people, and in 2016, Campbell County ranked among the nation's top 10 counties for prescription rates.

Each lawsuit used federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization laws to try to prove that so-called Big Pharma companies lied about opiate properties, lobbied for loose regulations under false pretenses and bribed politicians.

Individual companies have previously denied such accusations.


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com