Cook County in US state of Illinois Wednesday sued American leading pharmaceutical companies over their aggressive marketing of prescription opioid painkillers and the resulting climb in overdose and fatality rates nationwide.
The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars of compensation for opioid-related costs incurred by county taxpayers, Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to the medical examiner's office, 647 persons died from drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Cook County in 2015. And the number rose to 1,091 in 2016, up 70 percent from 2015.
By early December, there have been 847 documented opioid-related deaths in Cook County so far this year.
"The impact that opioids are having on Cook County cannot be ignored," State's Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement. "We see it in every part of the County, and the human cost is truly staggering. We must act in the public interest and hold accountable those who have been complicit in the creation of this epidemic."
Facing increasing opioid deaths in Cook County, "We believe a good start is to aggressively confront one of the root causes of this national epidemic: the pharmaceutical companies and those paid by the pharmaceutical companies who put profits before public health and safety," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Before then, several suburban Chicago counties have filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the country. Opioid use, which has skyrocketed in the United States since the turn of the century, is to blame for much of the increase.
President Trump on Dec. 26 directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, taking long-anticipated action to address a rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use.