“We feel strongly about our case. We’ve been hit hard by this epidemic,” said Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri.

Having already suffered an epidemic of opioid addiction, Pennsylvanians can now anticipate a new epidemic of addiction to opioid lawsuits as Luzerne and Columbia counties join others in filing federal cases against the pharmaceutical companies they want to hold responsible for the first epidemic (and thereby “recoup monies that have been spent because of defendants’ false, deceptive, and unfair marketing and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioids”).

The cost of “a whole swath of county services” needs to be reimbursed, according to Pedri.

Who is really responsible for the opioid epidemic, other than drug abusers, is subject to dispute. The ones responsible for the epidemic of opioid lawsuits, however, are known – and it's the same cast of characters in every state and county where this second epidemic has arisen.

They're local officials looking to make money and nationally known attorneys offering their services for free in return for nearly a third of the anticipated jackpot. The local officials are often the same persons who allowed the problem to fester, expressing indignation and outrage only when they finally realized that the problem they'd ignored for so long could be exploited for political advantage and financial gain.

There's no question that the opioid epidemic constitutes a public health crisis, but there is plenty of room for disagreement as to what the root causes are and who's to blame.

Medicaid expansion, for instance, has contributed to the crisis. State governments, through Medicaid, are the biggest buyers of opioids. States with the highest death rates from opioid overdoses all expanded Medicaid through Obamacare. Opioid prescription rates for Medicare recipients are more than double that of the privately insured.

Plaintiff mayors and county managers may think they've found a way to monetize the misery of their constituents and distract us from their failings, but we're not as stupid as they think and we know what they're doing.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

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