Lake County takes part in opiate lawsuit

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Lake County is joining the fight against opiates.

County Commissioner David Stipe explained that a law firm, Boone Karlberg, P.C. of Missoula, approached county officials to see if anyone qualifies to participate in the class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, in the research stage, Stipe said, is meant to help offset costs that accrued during a specific time within various county departments and organizations.

Stipe said that the lawsuit isn’t designed for county departments, but also can include organizations.

An example he gave was that if a church did opioid-related outreach in the past, the church can ask to be part of the lawsuit.

Once all the data from around the county is collected, a judge will determine the further outcome.

Stipe said that a judicial ruling cannot yet be anticipated.

THE COMMISSIONER also stated it’s difficult to go after doctors who have overprescribed, but physicians were influenced by enticing offers.

“It appears the company marketed (opiates) in a way they really rewarded doctors for overprescribing,” Stipe said.

Doctors at one point received rewards for doing so, Stipe explained, such as elaborate vacations.

Certain doctors and pharmacies around the United States have been accused of receiving prescriptions for opiates, and they’d fill them for thousands of pills.

Should monies be awarded, the funds would be a percentage of what was initially spent through a period of time on opiate-related cases will go back to those entities listed in the lawsuit.

The law firms will take their fees out of the settlements, incurring costs through the process, Stipe said.

A call to the Karlberg law firm for more information about the lawsuit was not immediately returned by presstime Tuesday.

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