Michigan on Tuesday sued four companies over the deadly painkiller epidemic, becoming what state Attorney General Dana Nessel says is the first state to sue major opioid distributors under a liability law that is typically used to go after drug dealers. The lawsuit was filed in Wayne County and names as defendants AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and Walgreens, which have also been sued in other states. The move makes Michigan the 49th state to have filed some kind of legal action against the opioid industry. Only Nebraska has not. Nessel says Michigan's suit is different because it targets distributors under a 1994 state law that was enacted to combat illegal drug trafficking, the AP reports.
The law lets people and governmental entities sue drug dealers for damages, even if the dealer did not make a sale specifically causing an injury. The companies "all used their licenses to distribute controlled substances in Michigan as a cover for what is essentially a criminal enterprise," Nessel says. "They knowingly and deliberately distributed drugs in our state without controls. This was not only negligent. It was unlawful, a public nuisance." The suit says more than 2.8 billion opioid pills were distributed in Michigan between 2006 and 2012. Nessel said the four companies owe Michigan for increased costs related to law enforcement, drug rehabilitation, early childhood and special needs education, and health care, including for infants born to opioid-dependent women.
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