Suffolk County to sue painkiller manufacturers

Suffolk County legislators voted unanimously Tuesday to sue prescription painkiller manufacturers for allegedly misleading customers about their drugs.

They say pharmaceutical companies misrepresent opioid drugs as safe and non-addictive methods for treating chronic pain.

Terri Kroll, of Lindenhurst, says her son began taking prescription painkillers for migraine headaches at 18 years old and then became addicted. He eventually moved on to heroin and died at 23.

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco says the goal of the lawsuit is to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for false advertising.

"Basically, they have marketed these drugs as being safe for long-term care for being non-addictive types of medications and nothing can be farther from the truth," Calarco says.

Calarco says the lawsuit aims to recoup millions of dollars the county has paid for health care and policing in response to the opioid epidemic plaguing the region.

One of the companies that will be a defendant in the suit is Purdue Pharma -- the maker of OxyContin.

"We have a lengthy record of collaborating with policymakers, law enforcement and public health experts to address opioid overuse and abuse," a representative of the company says. "So it's unfortunate that a more collaborative path wasn't chosen."

The county plans to hire a Manhattan law firm that will only be paid if Suffolk wins the lawsuit. Two counties in California and the city of Chicago have also filed lawsuits against five drug manufacturers over the same issue.

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