BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A lawsuit filed in Beaufort County state court Tuesday targets the manufacturers of opioids.
The suit claims deceptive practices, fraud, negligence against multiple pharmaceutical companies in connection to the opioid crisis.
The 124-page suit claims the manufacturers "misrepresented the dangers of long-term opioid use to physicians, pharmacists, patients, governmental units and others by engaging in a campaign to minimize the risks of an to encourage long-term opioid use."
The suit states that "the abuse of opioids has caused additional medical conditions that harm South Carolina residents and require care paid for by taxpayers."
The county claims it spends millions to provide healthcare and other services to citizens in the county who are addicted to opioids provided by the defendants.The suit also says the companies knew the opioids are too addicting for long-term use, yet sought to expand the market for opioids for "blockbuster " profits.
According to the suit, between 2007 and 2016 the drug manufacturers "shipped millions of doses of highly addictive controlled opioids pain killers into Beaufort County and elsewhere, causing diversion of opioid painkillers within Beaufort County."
The suit cites statistics from the National Safety Council which says 5 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in South Carolina in 2016 and ranked 9th among states in opioid prescribing rates.
The plaintiffs say many of those orders "should have been stopped, or at the very least, investigated as suspicious orders."
The suit states as a result, Beaufort County has lost productivity from its workforce and much needed tax revenue. The county states that it has spent millions in efforts to stop what it calls a "deceptive marketing campaign" by the drug companies and is seeking economic damages and relief from the financial burden it says the drug companies have put upon the county.
The lawsuit comes as South Carolina governor Henry McMaster declared a statewide health emergency because of the crisis.
The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial and monetary damages.