Butler County to sue opioid makers amid heroin crisis

HAMILTON, Ohio - Butler County commissioners gave the green light Monday to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors, hoping to get those entities to pay for the area’s heroin epidemic.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser says the county won’t be joining Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s litigation, but it will be in conjunction with what the attorney general is doing.

 “I recommended this to the county commissioners because it is a program like the tobacco litigation, we don’t want to be left out,” Gmoser said. “I don’t want to see Butler County left out of an opportunity to treat people at the expense of these manufacturers and distributors. When the gong sounds and the money is paid, I don’t want Butler County not standing in line to get its fair share to provide treatment for the addicts we have here.”

The prosecutor noted if the county is unsuccessful in this lawsuit, taxpayers won’t pay for litigation because it is a civil, contingency case.

Through September, there have been 177 overdose deaths in Butler County, up from 147 during the during the same time period last year, according to the coroner’s office.

DeWine sued five drug companies in May and now wants them to settle in order to provide the finances needed for recovery efforts. So far the state has not filed lawsuits against drug distributors but DeWine Monday urged them to step forward.

Cincinnati filed a lawsuit in August against the three largest wholesale distributors of opioids, demanding the firms reimburse the city for the costs of curbing the epidemic.

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