Horry County joins lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic

Horry County joins lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County is suing three major drug companies, saying the companies are partially responsible for the opioid crisis. Horry County Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to take part in the mass action lawsuit in which many other municipalities across the country have already done so.

Marion, Dillon and Beaufort counties are also all taking part in the lawsuit.

The drug companies AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health 110 LLC and McKesson Corporation are accused of over prescribing opioids to people.

DHEC reports 101 people died as a result of opioid overdoses in 2016 in Horry County – the most deaths of any county in South Carolina.

John Breeden is the lawyer representing Horry County in the lawsuit. He told WMBF News the drug companies play a big role in the epidemic, and they need to be held accountable.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus says the opioid crisis needs to be stopped.

"We still have a serious problem that we've got to address – we are addressing – and this is just one step in many that we'll be taking," Mark Lazarus said.

He says he hopes the drug companies will feel the pressure after so many municipalities across the country have joined this lawsuit.

"These manufacturers basically push these drugs onto the market and to doctors and things like that to get them to prescribe them and allegedly over prescribe them and things of that nature," Lazarus said.

Lazarus said it wasn't a difficult decision to join the lawsuit because it'll be free for the county.

"It's not costing the county anything," Lazarus said. "These lawyers take this on a contingency basis, full contingency. They absorb all the costs and everything out of it so there's no really downside on it for the county. There's a lot of upside to it as you go through the litigation process."

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