The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently compiled and released data about the correlation of prescription opioid pills and rise of opioid deaths. The data is being used in some of the 2,000 lawsuits that are being filed against pharmaceutical companies across the country, seeking compensation for the opioid epidemic.
A few days ago, one of the first lawsuits, filed against Johnson & Johnson, wrapped up in Oklahoma, where the state Attorney General Mike Hunter argued, "What is truly unprecedented here is the conduct of these defendants on embarking on a cunning, cynical and deceitful scheme to create the need for opioids." If the state of Oklahoma wins this lawsuit, they are seeking $17.5 billion dollars over a 30 year period to address opioid treatment, education, and addiction prevention. The judge presiding in the case is expected to rule later this summer.
The numbers the DEA compiled regarding Washington State are sobering and disturbing. Between 2006 and 2012, almost 2 billion prescription opioid pills were prescribed in the state. Rural counties were hit especially hard. Clallam County in northwest Washington saw 76.6 pills prescribed per person each year. In King County, 34.5 pills per person each year were prescribed. Most of the facilities that provided the prescription opioid pills were along I-5 between Longview and Seattle.
Washington Opioid Summit
In June 2017, the Washington Attorney General's Office, Washington State Patrol members, and Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys met with law enforcement, public health experts, and medical experts to discuss the opioid epidemic in Washington. This summit was a result of Governor Inslee's executive order to develop a strategy to reduce illegal opioids and help those who were prescribed opioids for chronic pain but now struggle with addiction. At this summit, some key issues of addiction were highlighted:
- Adults who develop a substance abuse disorder usually started using as an adolescent
- Addiction causes neurochemical changes in brain functions
- Addiction is often tied to mood or anxiety disorders
- Addiction is often strongly influenced by the environment of the user
- Addiction is strongly influenced by genetics
In Clallam County, the same county with the highest number of prescribed opioid pills per person, 29% of opioid overdoes were from prescription opioids. From 2011-2015, the rates of opioid overdose deaths were highest in Clallam, Snohomish, and Cowlitz counties.
Experienced Legal Counsel for Drug Possession
Attorney Steve Karimi provides effective legal representation for clients across Washington. He has many years defending against allegations that involve drug possession. If you or a loved one have a criminal record involving legal opioids or illegal opioids, call his office today at 206-621-8777 or fill out a contact form to learn how he can help your case.