NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – In December 2017, New Hanover County filed a lawsuit against several of the country’s largest drug manufacturers and distributors for fueling the opioid crisis in our community. Numerous county and city governments across the country are part of this national lawsuit, and discussions are underway for a possible settlement.
As part of these discussions, New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White was invited to Cleveland, OH for a meeting on Friday, October 18, joined by representatives from other communities who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. New Hanover County was the first in North Carolina to file back in 2017, taking a stand against the companies responsible for the destruction that the opioid epidemic has caused.
“Today I experienced one of the highest honors of my life, speaking in Cleveland, Ohio about my community and our wonderful people,” said Commissioner White. “New Hanover County was the first county in North Carolina to go to Federal Court and pursue justice for our citizens affected by the opioid crisis. And today at 9:30 a.m., Federal Judge Polster walked into a courtroom filled with the major defendant companies, four Attorney Generals – including North Carolina’s Attorney General Stein, over a hundred attorneys representing Indian Tribal Nations cities and counties across the country, and sat down. He listened intently as five of us spoke about the impact this crisis has had on our communities and what we are doing to help. I was joined by representatives from Milwaukee, WI, New York City, and Huntington, WV, who also offered their voices to the many other communities around the country who have been devastated. I do not know what will happen today or if a settlement will be reached, but I am hopeful that something good will come out of this entire effort and this awful chapter in American history will soon turn around and lives will be saved.”
According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2017 there were 11,390,000 opioid pills dispensed in New Hanover County. In that same year, there were 69 unintentional overdose deaths, 217 opioid overdose emergency department visits, and 1,194 reported community naloxone reversals.