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Anderson County Mayor Asks for Support of Suit against "Big Pharma"

CLINTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has asked the County Commission to pass a motion of support for a suit filed by District Attorneys against major pharmaceutical companies on behalf of nine East Tennessee counties. Part of that lawsuit claims Purdue Pharm misled physicians that OxyContin had minimal addiction risks associated with it.

Mayor Franks also asked for approval of two other motions, one that authorized a letter to be drafted to the State Attorney General to ask him to review the Ohio lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and the other requesting the authorization to form a working group to research cost-effective methods to support the efforts of the District Attorneys who filed the suit against the major pharmaceutical companies.

The County Commission unanimously approved all motions and Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Director Stephanie Strutner spoke in support of the efforts.

"I am so happy Anderson County is standing with one voice on the effort," said Mayor Frank. "I believe that the opioid epidemic is one that continues to need our closest attention and best efforts. I would hope that in Tennessee, that the pharmacy industry would set a different example. I have hoped that they would take the lead on helping local communities and our state at large in tackling the consequences of opiate use. I continue to hold out hope that I will turn on the television and see a combined, large-scale effort by 'Big Pharma' to propose a way to solve the problems of addiction in our community. Partnership with 'Big Pharma' would be the best path forward. At this point in time, unfortunately, that has not happened. As a result, I believe on behalf of the welfare of victims and their families, as well as the costs to local, state and national government, a stronger interim approach is required."

In the state of Tennessee, Anderson County ranks 19th out of 95 counties for opioid prescription rate per capita, according to a 2016 assessment by ASAP. The number of drug related deaths from 2010 to 2015 doubled for Knox and Anderson Counties, according to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center Drug Related Death Report 2010-2015. That report also found that prescription drug related deaths accounted for around 75 percent of the deaths from 2010-2015 versus illicit drugs in Knox and Anderson Counties; and oxycodone is the most frequently found drug in drug related deaths for each of the years between 2010 and 2015 for Knox and Anderson Counties.

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