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Politics and Government

Onondaga County sues pharmaceutical companies for opioid crisis

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO News File Photo
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the county will take pharmaceutical companies and others to court for their role in the opioid crisis.

Onondaga County filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against pharmaceutical companies and others for their part in the continuing opioid crisis.

The county is accusing drug companies and distributors of painkillers made from opioids of downplaying the risks of those kinds of drugs that have fueled a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. Onondaga County in particular has been hit hard by the epidemic, with the number of opioid-related deaths tripling since 2012. 

County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the county bears a cost from this suffering on a couple of fronts.

“There are human costs and then there are financial costs, not only as a major employer, because we cover our own employees, but because our population as taxpayers are asked to pay some of the bills to cover Medicaid," Mahoney said. 

This is the latest in a trend nationwide of governments suing drug companies and trying to hold them responsible for the explosion in opioid addictions. Several other county’s in the state have filed similar lawsuits, including Oswego County. Oneida County is considering similar action.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state will also file a lawsuit this year.