MORA, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico county is suing drug makers, saying pharmaceutical companies are responsible for an overwhelming opioid epidemic in their community. It’s a problem that is costing them money and lives.
For Jennifer Weiss-Burke, opioid addiction hits close to home.
“It hit our family so fast that I never saw it coming,” she said.
Weiss-Burke’s son Cameron was an athlete, prescribed opioids for a sports-related injury and it led to an addiction. The addiction cost him his life. Weiss- Burke is now the Executive Director of Healing Addiction in Our Community.
“Opioids are a problem all over the United States, and New Mexico is no different,” said Weiss-Burke.
It’s such a big problem, there’s now a new push. States, counties, even cities, are taking legal action.
“Mora has courageously decided to lead here in New Mexico and has chosen to be the first county to file a lawsuit against the drug manufacturers, as well as specific doctors,” said Joshua Conaway, who represents Mora.
Conaway said in New Mexico, Mora is among the worst counties per capita when it comes to the opioid epidemic. The lawsuit Mora filed is alleging the companies and doctors are to blame.
“They have engaged in a marketing campaign that has basically marketed to doctors by overstating the effectiveness of this drug, while at the same time minimizing the problems that are associated with the drugs,” said Conaway.
Among the doctors listed in the lawsuit is one doctor who plead guilty in 2016 to illegally dispensing prescription pain killers.
The county is seeking damages for the cost of extra law enforcement, lost productivity, and health costs associated with the opioid problem.
People like Weiss-Burke, back the movement.
“I applaud them for taking a step in this direction and maybe it will make a difference,” she said.