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A small county in Northwest Georgia has joined the litigation battle against makers and sellers of opioid drugs.

Catoosa County near the Tennessee and Alabama state lines has filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants in federal court seeking damages for economic losses as a result of the opioid addiction crisis.

Catoosa County is represented by Beasley Allen lawyers Rhon E. Jones, who is head of the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, Rick Stratton, Jeff Price, Will Sutton and Ryan Kral, along with local county attorneys Clifton M. “Skip” Patty, Jr. and C. Chad Young of Patty & Young Attorneys at Law in Ringgold.

The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division.

Beasley Allen has filed similar lawsuits on behalf of a number of Alabama municipalities, as well as Sumner County, Tennessee. The firm also is representing the State of Alabama in its opioid lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

Purdue shared this statement:

“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge. Although our products account for approximately 2% of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed the first FDA-approved opioid medication with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone. We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”

Beasley Allen’s Jones said in a news release Tuesday that the pharmaceutical industry deceived the American public when it flooded the market with highly addictive opioids.

“The industry’s unrestrained greed created an opioid epidemic that continues to unfold across the nation. Local resources have been stretched beyond many local governments’ limits, costing them a total of $504 billion dollars annually as they fight the complex and multifaceted problems that accompany opioid addiction,” Jones said.

“Catoosa County has been held in opioid’s tight grip, draining our local resources all because of the pharmaceutical industry’s greed,” Young said. “We want the industry to know that you cannot hide any longer. It is time that you pay for ripping apart families and communities and for leveraging your untold fortune on the backs or hard-working taxpayers.”

“Thanks to Big Pharma, between 1999 and 2014, prescription opioid deaths increased tenfold in Georgia,” Patty said in the Beasley Allen news release. “It has landed us as the 11th state in the country for the most prescription opioid overdoses. Local governments have triaged the victims and have begun to rebuild after the opioid epidemic took their communities by storm. Now they are seeking justice and reparation from those responsible for the epidemic.”

Economic damages resulting from the opioid epidemic include costs for providing medical care, therapeutic care and treatments for patients suffering from opioid-related addiction or disease, including overdoses and deaths; costs for providing counseling and rehabilitation services; costs for treating infants born with opioid-related medical conditions; public safety and law enforcement expenses; and care for children whose parents suffer from opioid-related disability or incapacitation, the lawyers said.

In 2016, Catoosa County had an opioid prescription rate of 116.1 for every 100 people. Nationally, opioids are responsible for killing more than 183,000 people since 1999, the lawyers said, quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016 alone, 42,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid overdoses.