My Suburban Life: DuPage County sues drug makers over opioid epidemic

Dec. 22, 2017

Megan Jones, My Suburban Life

DuPage County is one of five suburban counties in Illinois joining a growing trend across the U.S. to sue the biggest opioid pharmaceutical manufacturers in an attempt to recoup costs of battling an epidemic of addiction.

Attorneys for DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties filed separate lawsuits Dec. 21 against several pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Naperville-based Purdue Pharma and Lake Bluff-based Abbott Labs, and three doctors. County officials gathered Dec. 21 at the DuPage County Government Complex in Wheaton to announce the lawsuits.

“The end goal is to get the drug manufacturers to abate the public nuisance they created and to compensate all the counties for all the damages and losses that occurred and are ongoing,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. “As we stand here today, these losses continue to mount.”

Paul Hanly of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is representing each county except Lake County. He is currently representing about 100 counties around the U.S. on similar cases.

In DuPage County, there were 51 deaths in 2015 attributed to opioids, including heroin, fentanyl and prescription pills, Berlin said. In 2016, that number rose to 78, and so far in 2017, there have been 81 deaths attributable to opioids.

“This year as we celebrate the holiday season, dozens of DuPage County families will have an empty seat at the table where a loved one should be seated. These families lost husbands, wives, daughters, sons and grandchildren to drug overdoses involving heroin and opioid painkillers over the last few years,” DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said. “The pain is real. Every family will see it when they look at that empty chair.”

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