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Dane County to fight pharmaceutical companies in court over opioid epidemic

Dane County has seen a noticeable spike in opioid and heroin-related overdoses since 2000.

Image By: Thomas Yonash-Cardinal File Photo

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Wednesday that the county will pursue legal action against pharmaceutical companies for their responsibility in the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Between 2000 and 2016, Dane County has seen a significant rise in the rate in prescription overdose deaths from 6.3 per 100,000 residents to 12.4 per 100,000. Heroin-involved deaths have jumped from 3.0 per 100,000 to 10.1 per 100,000.

“The opioid epidemic has hit local communities hard across the United States, and Dane County is no exception,” said Parisi. “It’s time to tell pharmaceutical companies that enough is enough.”

The county has begun a number of different initiatives to combat the rise in overdoses. One such program is the ED2Recovery Program which groups people who have recently overdosed with “recovery coaches” who can guide them to long-term treatment.

The county also received $733,000 in state and federal grants to provide treatment for those using opioids or other drugs intravenously.

Dane County joins a growing list of municipalities that have decided to take legal action against pharmaceutical companies, including Chicago, Seattle and Cincinnati.

A resolution directing the Dane County Corporation Counsel to pursue the lawsuit will be discussed at tomorrow night’s board meeting.

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