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Health, Science and Environment

Kalamazoo moving to sue opioid makers

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Kalamazoo County has taken a step toward suing the makers of opioid drugs. 

Commissioners have been weighing whether to sign onto a large multi-party case against opioid manufacturers. On Tuesday the Board agreed to hear proposals from lawyers who would help the county with a case. But commissioners have not made a final decision on whether to join a lawsuit. The Board’s Democrats have signaled their support, while Republican commissioners appear to lean in the other direction. That includes Vice Chair Dale Shugars.

"The patient has to be more responsible, and I don’t know how we from this position is going to correct that."

Kalamazoo County has seen a sharp rise in opioid overdose deaths in recent years.

Board Chair Stephanie Moore has expressed support for suing opioid makers. Moore says she recently went to a funeral for a woman who died of a drug overdose.

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"She had heart problems, had surgery, got addicted to opioids, ended up escalating to drug abuse."

But some Board members have expressed concern about offending Pfizer Inc by suing opioid makers.

Pfizer is a major employer in Portage. Supporters of joining the lawsuit say Pfizer is not a target as it largely does not make opioids.