San Juan County is joining a lawsuit against opioid companies to get back the money it’s spent on combating the opioid crisis there.
The average cost of treating someone with an opioid addiction in New Mexico is $200. That includes health care and law enforcement spending.
Doug Echols, San Juan County’s attorney, said one of the most expensive parts of helping people who are addicted to opioids is keeping them alive.
"Law enforcement and ambulances, EMTs, even our jails are required to have Narcan available," he said. "There’s a substantial expense to that."
Narcan, or Naloxone, can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It costs $20 dollars a dose at Walgreens. And about 200 people have been admitted to San Juan County emergency rooms for opioid overdoses in the last four years.
The county joins Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties and about 300 others around the country in the lawsuit. They’re claiming pharmaceutical companies advertised opioids without disclosing the potential for addiction.
The state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation have filed similar lawsuits of their own.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and the Con Alma Health Foundation.