Second Oklahoma tribe files opioid lawsuit

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/09/2018 04:00 PM
TULSA (AP) – A second Oklahoma tribe is suing manufacturers and distributors of opioids, and large pharmacies for their alleged part in an overdose epidemic.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Oklahoma’s northern district on April 3, The Oklahoman reported. The lawsuit alleges the companies engage in marketing campaigns that aren’t truthful about the risks of using opioids. It alleges that the companies’ misconduct “has led to an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.”

“American Indians, including the Nation, have been significantly impacted by this epidemic,” the lawsuit states. “American Indians suffer the highest per capita rate of opioid overdoses.”

Overdose deaths in Native American communities have skyrocketed in the time the opioid epidemic has swept the U.S. and federal officials are looking for solutions.

Dr. Michael Toedt previously told U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that Native Americans and Alaska Natives saw a fivefold increase in overdose deaths between 1999 and 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures indicate the increase in that period was higher for Native Americans than any other group, jumping to roughly 22 deaths for every 100,000 people in metropolitan areas and nearly 20 for every 100,000 people in non-metropolitan areas.

Some of the defendants named in the lawsuit are the manufacturer Purdue Pharma, the distributor Cardinal Health and large pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.

A CVS spokesman said that the company believes the allegations “have no merit.”

“We are committed to the highest standards of ethics and business practices, including complying with all federal and state laws governing the dispensing of controlled substance prescriptions, and are dedicated to helping reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion,” the company said in a statement.

The Creek Nation’s lawsuit comes nearly a year after the Cherokee Nation filed a similar suit.

The Cherokee Nation’s lawsuit began in tribal court but has since been moved to federal court.

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