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BernCo To Sue Drug Companies Over Opioid Epidemic

Ed Williams
KUNM/Public Health New Mexico

Bernalillo County is joining a growing number of state and local governments in taking drug companies to court over the opioid epidemic. The county's decision to sue the drug companies comes just a week after Mora County filed its own suit in district court. 

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced this week that he’d be filing suit on behalf of the state, too.

But Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins says Bernalillo County’s decision was independent of those cases.

"There’s evidence that pharmaceutical companies that sold opioid-related painkillers aggressively marketed those drugs and downplayed the addictive nature of those medications," she said.

Deaths from prescription opioids have surpassed heroin in New Mexico, and dealing with addiction has been enormously expensive for local governments. Hart-Stebbins says the county’s goal will be to stop harmful marketing practices by drug companies, and if the they win damages in the suit, they’ll spend that money on addiction treatment and law enforcement.

Bernalillo County could choose to join in on one of the other lawsuits. Commissioners will be choosing a law firm in coming weeks to bring the case to court. 


KUNM's Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation. Find all PHNM stories online at publichealthnm.org.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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