DA Crump eyes battle on opioids, discusses combined lawsuit by DAs

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“If your heart is not heavy for this, you don’t care about our kids and our community.”

Tenth Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump was talking about the opioid epidemic across the county, specifically in Bradley County. His presentation was made to the Cleveland Sunrise Rotary Club Thursday.

“My heart hurts,” Crump said when talking about the deaths in the district from those overdosing on opioids. He said that last year, there were fewer overdose deaths for the entire 2016 period than there have already been this year.

“It is a tremendous problem — it is a community problem,” the District Attorney General stressed.

The problem does not just focus on individuals overdosing on opioids, but on those selling the drugs. That led to DAs in East Tennessee joining to file suit against Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

     Filed in Campbell County Circuit Court in Jacksboro, Tennessee, last Friday, the lawsuit also names two additional plaintiffs known collectively as Baby Doe by and through their Guardians Ad Litem. Additional defendants named in the filing include the (now-dissolved) Tennessee Pain Institute (TPI), two former TPI employees and a convicted drug dealer.

     “We filed this lawsuit because (these companies) have profited from the sale and distribution of these drugs,” Crump explained.

     “We believe they have done it in a manner that is not keeping with the law,” the District Attorney General said, “so we want to make sure that the practices that led to this cease but also that they have the opportunity to contribute some of the profits that they made to the communities that have so harmed by these sales.”

      Neither Crump nor the suit itself mentioned when the case would go to trial.

     Crump also told the Sunrise Rotary Club that opioid use is not the only problem with drugs in Bradley County. He said that many who overdose get those pharmaceuticals out of the medicine cabinets at their homes.

     He mentioned that many of these medicines are taken to what he said are “Skittles parties” where they are all placed in a pile and those at the party, mainly juveniles, alternately take one of the pills. These are taken without those at the get-togethers even knowing what they are taking.

     Crump said that it will take the community understanding that there is a drug overdose problem, and something needs to be done about it, to help stem the local epidemic. He said that he hopes to have a group meeting on Nov. 8 consisting of representatives from the Bradley County and Cleveland City to talk about the opioid problem in this area

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