Salt Lake County to sue 'big pharma' for opioid crisis

Salt Lake County to sue 'big pharma' for opioid crisis (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Salt Lake County is joining the nationwide fight to sue top pharmaceutical companies.

They’re one of several agencies across the country who say the drug companies used false advertising to pedal pills to patients and providers.

“Drug companies knew of the serious risks and adverse outcomes and the highly addictive properties of their opioid products,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.

Republican Speaker of the House Greg Hughes agreed.

“These statements were fraudulent. These statements were not true. And lives have been lost because of it,” he said.

Dennis Cecchini lost his 33-year-old son Tennyson to a decade-long battle with opioid addiction. His addiction started with a prescription for a hockey injury and ended with a heroin overdose in his parents’ bathroom in 2015.

Cecchini and his wife Celeste Cecchini have been working with lawmakers including Lavar Christensen to come up with a plan to help curb the epidemic.

“Quite frankly, big pharma need to pay their fair share. They’ve made a lot of money off of this disease,” he said. “They’ve got to start paying back some of the problems they’ve caused.”

County lawyers will spend the next two weeks looking into which pharmaceutical companies they will name in the suit. They are focusing on the manufacturers and companies that knowingly advertised and distributed the addictive drugs.

They are not focusing on physicians or pharmacists.