Posted on

Floyd County won’t be part of opioid lawsuit

By Bob Steenson,

Floyd County supervisors voted against joining a national lawsuit that seeks damages from a group of pharmaceutical companies for county expenses related to opioid abuse.

The supervisors have discussed the lawsuit a couple of times since it was first brought up in early December. Thirty-six counties in Iowa have joined the lawsuit, including Mitchell, Bremer, Fayette, Hardin and Winneshiek counties in this area, but Floyd County will not be one of them.

Tuesday morning the three-member board voted unanimously to turn down a resolution of support for the lawsuit, after briefly discussing whether the resolution could be amended to recognize that there is a national opioid abuse problem, but that it is not a significant problem in Floyd County.  

The lawsuit was filed Friday, Jan. 5, by three law firms from Wisconsin and Illinois. The Iowa State Association of Counties board of directors had urged Iowa counties to join the lawsuit to recoup some of what it says has been billions of dollars spent nationwide in health insurance, criminal justice and substance abuse costs.

The original resolution suggested by the Iowa association includes a line that says, “Whereas, county has spent millions in unexpected and unbudgeted time and resources in its programs and services related to the Opioid Epidemic. …”

County Auditor Gloria Carr had suggested a revised resolution that made several changes, including striking that line, because the county has not spent millions of dollars because of opioid abuse.

Various sources have said opioid medication abuse does not appear to be a problem in Floyd County.

On Monday, County Attorney Rachel Ginbey said there have been very few criminal cases or mental health commitment cases involving opioid drugs in Floyd County, and Supervisor Doug Kamm said a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office told him he has seen very few cases of opioid abuse.

Carr said she discussed the problem with representatives of the Floyd County Medical Center and was told there have been two hospital cases in the past year related to opioid use.

“They credit the local physicians for using great caution in prescribing medications, and think that oftentimes other medications are used rather than opioid-related medication,” Carr said.

“They wondered if there would be any impact on the reputation of the community if you approve something like this, … that looks like you’re sending a message out to the people that you have an opioid problem in the community,” Carr said.

The supervisors agreed that opioid abuse is a national problem, but Kamm also wondered if lawsuits such as this one aren’t part of the problem causing increasing medical costs.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firms Crueger Dickinson LLC, Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and von Briesen & Roper SC, against the drug companies Purdue Pharma LP, Purdue Pharma Inc., The Purdue Frederick Co. Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Cephalon Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., OrthoMcNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the board appointed James Jorgensen of Rudd to the Floyd County Board of Adjustment for a five-year term, and reappointed Bill Fluhrer to that board, continuing a term that had technically expired at the end of 2015.

Social Share