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Walworth County joins Wisconsin counties filing federal lawsuit against opioid makers

WALWORTH COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Walworth County is joining two-thirds of Wisconsin counties to file a federal lawsuit against major drug manufacturers. 

The lawsuit claims drug makers aggressively pushed "highly addictive, dangerous opioids." It says they lied to doctors about how addictive the drugs can be for patients. 

Walworth County joins several other counties in the area Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Racine, and others. In Milwaukee County, eight opioid prescriptions were written for every ten residents in 2016. In 2017, 336 people died of drug overdoses in Milwaukee County. 

That number has more than doubled since 2012. Overall in Wisconsin, opioid overdose deaths doubled from 2006 to 2015. Other opioid lawsuits filed in federal courts have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio. Milwaukee County's lawsuit could be moved there as well. 

See the list of counties in the area that have filed lawsuits below:

Kenosha County - Filed November 2017. The county has spent millions in unbudgeted time and resources in programs and services related to the opioid epidemic.  

Milwaukee County - Filed March 2018. In 2017, 336 people in Milwaukee County died from drug overdose deaths, the majority of which involved opioids. In 2015, 76.8 opiod prescriptions were written for every 100 people. Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Milwaukee county says 7.7 opioid prescriptions were dispensed for every 10 residents of the Milwaukee area in 2016.

Racine County - Filed December 2017. As of January 2018, the Racine County Medical Examiner's Office reported 35 confirmed deaths in 2017 related to drug overdose, with another six pending cases that were likely overdoses. 

Walworth County - Filed August 2018. Walworth County also has a high overdose death rate for deaths involving opioids - a rate of 12.7 deaths per 100,000 residents from 2013 to 2015 with 39 total deaths. The County has also seen deaths from drug overdoses involving heroin rise. From 2013 to 2015, there were 12 deaths from heroin. Opioids have also been responsible for a large number of hospitalizations and
emergency department visits in Walworth County. In 2014, the county had 29 inpatient and emergency hospitalizations visits involving opioids at a rate of 28.2 per 100,000 residents.

Washington County - Filed November 2017. In 2016, there were 21 reported deaths from opioid overdose in Washington County. Between 2013 and 2015, at least 49 people died from opiate overdoses in Washington County.

Waukesha County - Filed July 2018. Waukesha County is joining a federal lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors. 


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