Monday, April 6, 2015

The Fight Comes to My Own Back Yard

Fulton County, Georgia has filed a lawsuit against several of the major drug distribution companies (McKesson, Cardinal, etc.) seeking damages related to the prescription drug abuse epidemic.  I haven't read the full court filing, but it appears this action is similar to West Virginia's approach (i.e., to sue the distributors and not the manufacturers, as the City of Chicago and Orange/Santa Clara Counties in California chose to do).

This suit is interesting for two reasons:

1) It's politically cleaner than the West Virginia law suit.  In that state, the primary law suit left out (at least initially) McKesson and Cardinal, the two largest drug distributors.  Turns out the Attorney General in West Virginia used to be a lobbyist for McKesson and his wife is a lobbyist for Cardinal.  While the legal concept being used by Fulton County of focusing law suits on distributors is similar to West Virginia's, the potential conflicts of interest are absent.

2) I live in Fulton County, Georgia.  I'll have a front row seat for this battle.  My county is a politically, racially, and economically diverse county; but like the rest of America, we have more in common than we have differences.  Among the things residents of Fulton County have in common is that many of us have felt, witnessed, or experienced the impact of prescription drug misuse and abuse.

My community is a lot like yours, probably.  Except that we now have an aggressive and creative legal strategy we're pursuing that may offer a pathway for communities across the country to recoup at least some of the costs we've expended in public health, our judicial system, and our law enforcement agencies.

Or... this could fall flat on its face and prove a waste of taxpayer resources.  I'm not taking a position either way, but I'm fascinated to see how this plays out.

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