City looks to join opioid litigation

The Starkville Board of Aldermen look to join opioid litigation after discussion during its work session Friday (courtesy photo)
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen look to join opioid litigation after discussion during its work session Friday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66 percent of drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was five times higher than in 1999.

On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC.

The most common drugs involved in prescription overdose deaths include Methadone, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.

The CDC says health care providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state, which was Hawaii.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said this litigation is not unlike the tobacco litigation, which the city opted to join. She said in the end, the tobacco litigation saw a high return of reward and the city should look to join the effort of an issue that has "taken the country by storm."

Spruill told members of the board attending the work session the city would not have to pay any money to become involved in the process.

"There's nothing required of us," Spruill said. "Other than to agree to be one of the plaintiffs."

City Attorney Chris Latimer said when the tobacco litigation was formed, the city did not join and it ended up seeing a big return, so joining the opioid litigation would be worth trying.

"It's worth a shot," Latimer said. "I can't say that there is any kind of guarantee potential of recovery."

Latimer emphasized during the work session, the city would not have any expenses.

As for different entities joining the litigation, Latimer said there are a number of cities and counties who have joined, or are seeking to approve joining litigation.

Some of the areas pending approval include Lee County, Chickasaw County, Clay County, Panola County, Choctaw County.

Other areas in current negotiation are Monroe County, Lowndes County, DeSoto County, Southaven and Fulton.

Spruill said there may be more questions from board members who did not attend the work session on whether joining the litigation is worth joining, and may be pulled off the agenda, but she feels it is worth joining because there is only a benefit by doing so.

"It looks to me that it would sort of be a no brainer," Spruill said.