The Cherokee Nation is suing a group of companies that sell and prescribe opioids, accusing them of fuelling the opioid epidemic in their communities.
(George Frey/Bloomberg/Getty) The Cherokee Nation, whose territory spans 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma, filed the lawsuit this week in the Cherokee Nation District Court, naming AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and pharmacies CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
The lawsuit was applauded by Bryn Wesch, the head of Novus Medical Detox Center, a national drug treatment facility headquartered in Florida.
Cardinal Health said in a statement that it will defend itself against the allegations and believes the lawsuit does not advance "the hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis — an epidemic driven by addiction, demand and the diversion of medications for illegitimate use." "The issue of opioid abuse is a complex one that spans the full health-care spectrum, including manufacturers, wholesalers, insurers, prescribers, pharmacists and regulatory and enforcement agencies," the spokesperson said.
Boudreau said such a lawsuit is possible in Canada, where a similar opioid crisis has gripped Indigenous communities — but it would be costly and ultimately a David and Goliath-type battle.