Cherokee Nation Sues Retailers, Distributors Over Opioid Crisis

Suit alleges companies violated sovereign Cherokee laws by failing to prevent black market sales

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MONDAY, April 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A lawsuit has been filed by an Indian nation against six of the top drug distributors and pharmacies in the United States for harm done by prescription pain medications.

The suit alleges the companies violated sovereign Cherokee laws by failing to prevent prescription pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone from ending up on the black market, profiting from the situation, and damaging communities, the Washington Post reported.

"Defendants turned a blind eye to the problem of opioid diversion and profited from the sale of prescription opioids to the citizens of the Cherokee Nation in quantities that far exceeded the number of prescriptions that could reasonably have been used for legitimate medical purposes," according to the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the Cherokee Nation said that by filing the suit in tribal court, they hope to get quicker access to internal corporate records that could reveal what the companies knew about the diversion of prescription opioids across the nation's 14 counties in northeastern Oklahoma.

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