Carbon County has decided to join its federal lawsuit with nearly 700 other plaintiffs against numerous pharmaceutical companies and distributors, according to court records filed Tuesday.

Its lawsuit will now be combined with others in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio.

The county alleges the 22 drug companies -- some of which are related -- misrepresented the addictive properties of opioids, and it wants financial remediation and a halt to the promotion and distribution of certain pain relief medicines.

Carbon County's lawsuit contains similar language to lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments that claim the companies began a marketing campaign more than two decades ago that misled doctors and patients into believing that opioids such as oxycodone and oxycontin can be used to treat chronic pain instead of just short-term acute pain or end-of-life pain.

This lawsuit, like a similar one filed by the Northern Arapaho Tribe earlier this year, has Wyoming-specific language: "Wyoming faces skyrocketing opioid addiction and opioid-related overdoses an deaths as well as devastating social and economic consequences."

Those social consequences include addicted homeless persons who commit drug and property crimes to feed their addictions, according to the Carbon County lawsuit. "For example, tax dollars are required to maintain public safety of places where the addicted homeless attempt to congregate, including city parks, schools and public lands. Tax dollars are required to fight the (diseases) brought by the addicted and particularly the addicted homeless."
Because the facts of these cases are similar, federal law allows such lawsuits to be consolidated as a multidistrict litigation in one federal district court. U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, Ohio, will oversee these cases.

The lawsuit filed by the Northern Arapaho Tribe was moved there several weeks after it was filed in Wyomng.
Attorney Jason Ochs said earlier this month the county wanted the case decided in Wyoming. He did not return a call seeking comment on why the venue changed.

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