(AC Mayor press release) Monday evening, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank asked County Commission to pass a motion of support for the efforts of District Attorneys Barry Staubus, Tony Clark and Dan Armstrong in their suit against major pharmaceutical companies on behalf of nine East Tennessee counties. Part of the lawsuit claims Purdue Pharm misled physicians that OxyContin had minimal risks of addiction.
Frank also asked for approval on two other motions, the first request being a motion that authorized the drafting of a letter to our State Attorney General asking him to review the Ohio lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Lastly, Frank requested authorization to form a working group to research the most cost-effective method to support the efforts of the three District Attorneys and nine counties, that is, the possible filing of an amicus brief, joining the suit, etc.
Commission unanimously approved all motions and Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Director Stephanie Strutner spoke in support of the efforts.
“I am so happy Anderson County is standing with one voice on the effort,” said Mayor Frank.
“I believe that the opioid epidemic is one that continues to need our closest attention and best efforts. I would hope that in Tennessee, that the pharmacy industry would set a different example. I have hoped that they would take the lead on helping local communities and our state at large in tackling the consequences of opiate use. I continue to hold out hope that I will turn on the television and see a combined, large-scale effort by ‘Big Pharma’ to propose a way to solve the problems of addiction in our community. Partnership with ‘Big Pharma’ would be the best path forward. At this point in time, unfortunately, that has not happened. As a result, I believe on behalf of the welfare of victims and their families, as well as the costs to local, state and national government, a stronger interim approach is required,” stated Mayor Frank.
Anderson County ranks 19th out of 95 counties in Tennessee for opioid prescription rate per capita, according to a 2016 community assessment report by Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP). According to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center Drug Related Death Report 2010-2015, the number of drug related deaths from 2010 to 2015 doubled for Knox and Anderson Counties; prescription drug related deaths accounted for approximately 75% of the deaths from 2010-2015 vs. illicit drugs in Knox and Anderson Counties; and oxycodone is the most frequently found drug in drug related deaths for each of the years between 2010-2015 for Knox and Anderson Counties.