The Pratt County Commissions have approved an outside council to pursue a suit against certain companies that wrongfully manufacture and distribute opioids.

Pratt County is latest entity to join in a lawsuit to make companies that manufacture and distribute opioid medications liable for its cost to government entities.

The Pratt County Commissioners passed a resolution to retain Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska of Wichita and additional firms to pursue a civil suit against companies that are legally responsible for the wrongful manufacture or distribution of prescription opiates and the damages they cause, said Pratt County Clerk Sherry Kruse.

Sedgwick County approved getting similar counsel about nine weeks ago. It is the same counsel Pratt has retained. Other Kansas governmental entities are also joining in the lawsuit, said Pratt County Counselor Bob Schmisseur.

Opioid addiction is impacting Pratt County. If a person in the county jail has an opioid addition, the county has to provide that person with medical treatment.

"It is a cost Pratt County is paying right now," Schmisseur said.

There is an opioid crisis in America and the number of people dying from drug overdose continues to climb. This addiction hurts people and costs governments a substantial amount of money.

In this suit, the law firm will attempt to get the companies responsible to put money in a trust that governmental entities in the suit can draw from to help pay for some of the expenses they encounter in covering treatment for opioid addiction.

If the lawyers are successful, they will take 30 percent of the amount they recover for their fee and the government entities will get the remainder of they amount of their suit. Whatever that amount is, the government entities can use the money as they see fit.

The law firm will stand all the expenses. If the lawyers are not successful, there is no cost to the government entities, Schmisseur said.

With no expense coming out of the government entities coffers, the commissioners decided to go ahead an join in the lawsuit.

Opioid addiction is a problem in every community. The law suit is a way of holding the people who are profiting from this responsible.

Some of the major drug companies may have a drug company in a small town and millions of doses are being shipped to that pharmacy. Its this kind of practice the law suit hopes to make the drug companies that are creating the problem responsible for their actions.

Years ago there was a similar lawsuit against tobacco companies. Kansas filed in that suit and gets money from the settlement. But it took a long time to settle the tobacco lawsuit and a similar long time expected in this lawsuit before any money would be available.

"It will take years to get a settlement," Schmisseur said.

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