Boone County joins opioid lawsuit against drug companies - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Boone County joins opioid lawsuit against drug companies

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BOONE COUNTY (WREX) -

Boone County is no stranger to the opioid epidemic.

"It's been a huge crisis for this community," said Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest. 

And with nine overdose deaths reported last year, officials say the problem isn't going away.

"Just the overall amount of felony charges that we have here in Boone County for prescription drugs, for possession of prescription drugs without a prescription, that's increased dramatically," said State's Attorney Tricia Smith.

But now, the county is taking the issue to the courts. 
This week, Boone County will join a number of other local governments in a mass action lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies.

"I think by all communities coming together and filing against the pharmaceutical companies, I think it's getting everyone's attention," said Ernest. 

"It's making a statement to the opioid distributors and manufacturers that they need to be held accountable for their actions," said Smith.

Win or lose, the suit won't cost taxpayers. That's because a private firm representing the county will only be paid based on settlement recovery. If there is a win, the county says it could bring in money to help relieve some of the financial stress caused by the opioid crisis.

"We are very aware of all of our social services agencies that are burdened by the affects on the families within in our community not being able to absorb the consequences fully of abuse, addiction and overdose," said Boone County board member Jessica Muellner.

But it's not all about money, Sheriff Ernest says he hopes the lawsuit raises awareness about this deadly crisis and its impacts on communities like Boone County.

"People look at it and they say how does this really affect us? It affects everyone in our community tremendously," said Ernest. 

Winnebago County and Rockford announced a similar lawsuit earlier this year against some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the country.

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