County goes after opioid costs

WINNSBORO – After receiving legal advice in executive session Monday evening regarding potential opioid litigation on behalf of Fairfield County, Council returned to public session and voted to join a lawsuit being brought by Savage, Royall & Sheheen L.L.P of Camden.

“This firm is filing suits on behalf of a number of counties to recover losses occurring from us having to deal with the opioid epidemic,” County Administrator Jason Taylor said. “They are going after drug companies because of the cost of such things as sheriff’s calls, ambulance calls and all other costs resulting from opioid use.”

Taylor said the suit is not a class action suit, but the law firm is suing on behalf of the individual counties. As to what extent Fairfield County is affected by opioid use, Taylor said the law firm will begin gathering statewide statistics and looking at national statistics and extrapolating those downward.

“Then they will look specifically at Fairfield County,” Taylor said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain and can produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, according to the Institute.

The Voice left a voice message on Wednesday with the Sheriff’s department asking about the overall extent of the use or misuse of opioids in Fairfield County, but the department had not responded at press time.