Mohawk Tribe Sues Opioid Companies

Mohawk Tribe Sues Opioid Companies

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The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is suing companies that manufacture or distribute opioids.

Tribal officials filed a lawsuit in federal court last week.

Several New York counties -- including St. Lawrence and Lewis -- have joined a class action suit that also targets opioid drug-makers.

Tribal officials say they're seeking to hold companies responsible for the costs incurred in responding to the public health crisis attributed to the opioid epidemic, which they say has had "devastating effects" on the Akwesasne community.

The suit alleges that the companies who manufacture, market, and distribute opioids "carried out a scheme to make doctors and patients believe that prescription opioids were safe, non-addictive when taken for pain, and could be used without long-term effects."

Tribal officials say the companies' actions "created the worst human-caused epidemic in modern medical history and one that has ravaged tribal communities."

"The opioid epidemic is far more devastating and has had a more profound cost on our tribal community than anyone could have ever imagined," Tribal Chief Beverly Cook said. "An entire generation of tribal members is growing up in the shadow of the opioid epidemic, with far-reaching consequences compounded by the historical trauma that our community has endured."

Officials estimate that opioid abuse and addiction accounted for 85 to 90 percent of the tribe's child welfare cases over the past five years. The opioid epidemic, they say, is also responsible for crime in their community, as well as negative health effects on tribal members.

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