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Summit County Initiates Opioid Plan Following Appeals Court Ruling

Photo of opioids
Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro says the opioid crisis that led her to declare a state of emergency in 2017 continues. In the past three years, more than 7,000 overdoses were reported by emergency rooms in the county.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has rejected Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s request to delay the October 21 start for the huge opioid trial in federal court in Cleveland.

Three judges from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals declined the request from Yost and a dozen other attorneys general and the US Chamber of Commerce. They had wanted to delay the consolidated bellwether trial involving opioid manufacturers and distributors being sued by 2,600 local governments. Yost had argued that states have sole authority to pursue these claims for all citizens. But the judges said there’s been extensive work in preparing for the trial. They note that Yost’s request was filed in late August, though the state didn’t object two years ago when Cuyahoga and Summit Counties’ cases were included in the overall case. Yost says in a statement that the decision didn’t say his argument was incorrect or invalid, and that his office is reviewing its options.

The decision now allows the October 21 trial to move forward in Cleveland and frees up settlement dollars that have been negotiated already with several of the defendants named in the lawsuit. They include Endo Pharmaceuticals, Allergan Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

In a statement, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said that, "We...intend to use current and future funds obtained as a result of this litigation to abate the ongoing epidemic." The county is creating an Opioid Abatement Advisory  Council (OAAC) with members designated by local leaders. "They will have oversight authority to ensure funding goes to Summit County programs that help abate the opioid epidemic," Shapiro said. The council will focus on funding programs that address treatment, harm reduction, system coordination, and evidence-based prevention and education. Shapiro stated, "These four areas will guide the collective action of the OAAC to turn settlement dollars into community impact." 

A summary released by the county executive is below.