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City council looks at ways to confront the opioid crisis

By Tia Lyons
This article was published January 18, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

The El Dorado City Council has been asked to join a concerted effort to tackle what is being tagged the “opioid crisis” across the state and the nation.

Aldermen will convene for a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

At the top of the council’s agenda is a proposed resolution to support an engagement letter spelling out how a litigation team representing the Arkansas Municipal League and municipalities around the state plans to investigate and prosecute claims against companies and other parties that manufacture and/or distribute opioid medications.

The list of companies include, but are not limited to, Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc; Watson Laboratories, Inc.

The team will provide legal services to cities, towns and counties who sign on to participate in the lawsuit.

Pursuing legal action is one way the state of Arkansas is working to avert rampant and illicit opioid use, which is ravaging communities across the country, much like the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s.

The public health crisis has contributed to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. in recent years.

Prescription drugs were reportedly used in most of the drug-related deaths. Arkansas is second to Alabama in opioid prescription rates.

Drug abuse in Arkansas has risen to alarming levels, so much so, that the state’s meth crisis was highlighted in a 2017 HBO documentary, “Meth Storm.”

In El Dorado and Union County, arrests involving possession of methamphetamine have increased noticeably within the past decade.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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