With an average rate of 16.3 deaths per 100,000, the U.S. has seen an unprecedented rise in prescription opioid overdose-related deaths in recent years. Nevada is not immune from the epidemic, and is over 25 percent higher than the national average at 20.4 deaths per 100,00 residents. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve now says she wants to do something about those rising numbers.
Schieve is planning to file a lawsuit against drug manufacturers that have yet to be named specifically. She told The Nevada Independent that she met with an attorney to look into a potential lawsuit.
Other Reno City Council members have yet to make any comment on a potential suit. The issue will most likely be brought up at the November city council meeting.
Other lawsuits of similar accord have been filed in several cities and states such as Seattle, which is suing several pharmaceutical companies over pain pill marketing in the city. New Mexico sued eight drug companies in September, holding them accountable for the rising opioid epidemic. Dayton, Ohio sued pharmaceutical companies, drug distributors and doctors who they claim are responsible for addiction and overdose problems in the city.
There has been a wave of cases against companies that make, distribute and market painkillers in several other states like California, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Many of the suits allege that these companies target populations more susceptible to use and abuse such as veterans and seniors, do not fully explain the risks involved with taking prescription painkillers and they play up the benefits that their drugs have on the patient.
Reno, too, has been hit by the opioid epidemic, and the use of prescription drugs in the city has been on the rise since 1999. Last year, an opioid distribution ring was busted by federal authorities at the Jones West Ford car dealership in south Reno.
Sentencing for those involved will take place in November.
Former University of Nevada, Reno, football player Michael Yenick died of an opioid overdose in 2015. His use of opioids was linked to the ring.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt started an initiative to have the state purchase pill incinerators, which would be an effective way to discard unused painkillers. The initiative would also fund programs to educate youths on opioid use.
Joey Lovato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.