Home NEWS Government One Opioid Fatality Per Week In Contra Costa County In 2016 –...

One Opioid Fatality Per Week In Contra Costa County In 2016 – Supervisors Promise Litigation Against Manufacturers/Distributors

Photo: Portland (Oregon) Tribune/ Christopher Onstott

At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, it was announced that Contra Costa County plans to join a consortium of more than 25 California counties, as well as hundreds of other municipalities throughout the United States, to initiate litigation against the drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic that has destroyed so many lives across the country and in Contra Costa County.

“Contra Costa County experienced 53 deaths due to opioid-related overdoses in 2016, the most recent calendar year for which data is available,” said County Health Services Director Anna M. Roth. “This represents a 7 percent increase from 2014 and translates into one death per week in Contra Costa County in 2016 due to opiate overdose. Opiates were promoted by manufacturers and distributors as being non-addictive and safe. Death related to opiate use is all the more tragic because it is preventable.”

Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Karen Mitchoff, called pending litigation “an important tool to help us recover the taxpayer funds currently being used and desperately needed to intervene and try to counteract the opioid epidemic.”

The intended lawsuit will include a cost recovery action to reimburse the County for taxpayer funds that already have been spent responding to this epidemic, as well as the local costs of continuing the fight, including emergency response, prevention, monitoring and treatment; and equitable relief to help alleviate opioid use dependence, fund local action to resolve this crisis, and try to undo some of the widespread damage that these drug manufacturers and distributors have caused, officials said.

The expected defendants include drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Teva Ltd., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Allergan PLC, and Mallinckrodt, as well as the nation’s three largest, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp.


  1. One a week. That’s bad enough until you think about the counties elsewhere in the country that have been hit even harder.

  2. There is no such thing as “non-addictive” drugs. Pain medication is VERY addictive. Maybe it’s time to educate yourself, and quit relying on what the manufacturer says. Didn’t tobacco companies say the same thing? Did people really believe tobacco wasn’t harmful?

  3. Do we have any plans to address alcohol related DUI deaths and injuries that occur in this county? The latest stats I could find were from 2015 and showed that 529 people were injured or killed in an alcohol involved collision in Contra Costa County. While I don’t deny that the opioid epidemic is a serious problem, let’s not turn a blind eye to the impact that alcohol related crashes continue to play in our society despite decades of prevention and awareness programs.

  4. Very few opioid deaths are suicides (in the conventional sense). These are accidental overdoses that are the result of people not understanding what they are putting into their bodies. Suing drug manufacturers is dumb and pointless. They label their drugs. Fatal overdoses from Rx meds used in isolation have not increased much in last five years. What has changed is a crack down on distribution of legal drugs (and introduction of anti-abuse formulations). This has driven addicts to street drugs (heroine and fentanyl) so addicts no longer know the contents or potency of what they are putting into their bodies. The war on drugs is kill more than DUI accidents (and non-DUI car accidents) combined. It is killing more people than AIDS. How many addicted should die because of our smug paternalism? You can’t send a corpse to rehab. Essentially all people who die from overdose have used Rx meds at some point. But virtually *none* of the people who take Rx pain meds will later die from overdose. #Logic

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