City of Hot Springs joins lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over opioid abuse

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Brejamin Perkins, KTHV 9:23 PM. CST December 19, 2017 

The opioid crisis across the nation and here in Arkansas continues to strike conversation and concern. 

Tonight, the city of Hot Springs may be next in line to join a lawsuit aiming to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible. The city would join more than 100 others on board with the Arkansas Municipal League.

Since 2011, Arkansas has lost 265 million in societal loses.

“In 2013, we had the highest rate of teenagers prescribed opioids of any state in the nation,” said Don Zimmerman, Director of the Municipal League.

State leaders, cities and counties are taking the opioid crisis into their own hands.

“Our nation is in a crisis and Arkansas is right at the forefront of it,” he added.

Zimmerman thinks rural states are targeted most by pharmaceutical companies.

“This is a map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the number of opioid overdoses across the country,” said Zimmerman showing map of data that showed Arkansas at the center of it all.

The Association of Arkansas Counties is involved with the lawsuit as well. 66 have already been filed in federal court across the country.

“You probably saw the piece of 60 minutes on CBS the night before last where they were talking about this crisis and how the federal government tried to deal with one of the big manufactures. They got a small settlement,” he said.

Right now, Zimmerman isn’t sure if something similar could happen in Arkansas but hopes the lawsuit pushes positive action.

“We anticipate that we’re going to have the vast majority of cities and counties in this litigation. Hopefully we’ll have them all,” said Zimmerman.

Last year about 1.7 million opioid prescriptions were issued in the state.

“The highest in Arkansas is 177 prescriptions per 100 people in Green County, Garland County is right there with them at 176,” he added.

Next month there will be a meeting in Fort Smith, where the Arkansas Municipal League anticipates more cities and counties will join litigation.

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