At the March 5 board meeting, county commissioners plan to hear a presentation from the Eglet Prince law firm concerning a lawsuit on opioid manufacturing companies.

Previously, at the Feb. 20 meeting, the board discussed the pharmaceutical companies sometimes misrepresenting a given drug as not being addictive, when in fact it is.

Commission chair Paul Donohue noted the need for using opioids in some cases, post-surgery, for example, but also added, “I can see the power of addiction,” stating that his own family “has a long history of addictions. I understand that completely.”

He continued, “I consider this argument almost the same as gun control along the same line that pills don’t make addicts, people make addicts. At the same time, I don’t want to see honest doctors and patients with honest needs get hurt. So, I think that if we join in on the lawsuit, we’ll have a voice. If we do not, then we won’t have a voice.”

People can get addicted in two main ways, Donohue explained at the meeting. “One is, if you take it for a long time, you’ll get physically addicted, and in trying to get off, you feel like you’re being pulled backwards through a knothole. The other is overusing the drug. If one is good, then three is better. However, with all the current stringent regulations, many doctors are finding they may not be able to prescribe a given medicine for a patient who is in great need of it, and that scares me more than anything.”

County District Attorney Daniel Hooge said he was aware of some companies being sued over deceptive marketing claiming a given drug was not addictive, when in fact it was.

“At first,” Hooge said, “this was a criminal matter. But now it has steamrolled into a civil matter with the Federal Drug Administration wanting to stop the ongoing abuses of deceptive marketing. Some drugs are just being overprescribed. Those who need it should have the prescription, but many are being given a prescription when they should not have it.”

He noted he has had cases where some people have gone to doctors out of county, out of state, just to get the opioid, before local doctors can check their medical history. “If people become addicted for whatever reason, then they start doctor shopping and just go crazy with it.”

Hooge said the lawsuit now in the courts is not so much aimed at a given drug, it’s targeted more at deceptive marketing practices and methods.