Arkansas group hopes opioid lawsuit moves to trial soon

AAC Litigation Counsel hopes opioid lawsuit moves to trial within two years.

By Max Bryan
SW Time Record

Officials with the Association of Arkansas Counties are hoping their statewide opioid lawsuit goes to trial as soon as possible.

Arkansas Counties officials in March filed a lawsuit in Crittenden County Circuit Court against opioid manufacturers and distributors with signatures from officials in all Arkansas counties, major population cities and the state government.

Although a lawsuit of this size typically takes three to seven years to reach a court trial, Arkansas Counties litigation counsel member Colin Jorgensen said he is hoping it moves to trial within two years.

Preliminary data from the Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program show the state’s painkiller prescription rate was about 108.1 per 100 people, Jorgensen said. Of the 401 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2016, 335 were opioid-related, according to monitoring program data.

Officials with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care listed Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin and Scott counties as “high-risk” for opioid overdose deaths based on factors such as opioid distribution by prescription and opioid-related arrests. Sebastian County led the state in opioid-related arrests and had the third-highest opioid prescription rate in the state in the latest available years for data.

“It’s important to us that it moves as quickly as possible, because every day, new people are becoming addicted to opioids,” said Chris Villines, executive director of Arkansas Counties. “Every day, the problem is growing worse.” Read more.

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