MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) – Montgomery County officials have filed two lawsuits against opioid manufactures and distributors.

County Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr., and the Chief of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Civil Division Mary Montgomery announced the two lawsuits Wednesday, which assert claims related to the “deceptive marketing, prescribing, distribution and sale” of opioids in the county.

The lawsuits describe how the defendants have allegedly created a deceptive marketing scheme designed to change the perception of opioids, with the goal of permitting and encouraging the long-term use of opioids for widespread chronic condition. The prosecutor also alleges that manufacturers and distributors turned a blind eye to suspicious orders and shipments of opioid painkillers, which enabled the funneling of drugs onto the black market.

Specific claims made against manufacturers include overstating the benefits of chronic opioid therapy, telling doctors that opioids could be taken in even higher doses without disclosing greater disks and falsely describing addiction as “pseudoaddiction”. Distributors are accused of deliberately disregarding their duties to report and terminate suspicious orders, hiding a lack of cooperation with law enforcement and collectively fueling the opioid epidemic.

Over the first three months of 2018, the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center had 335 calls for drug overdoses, the coroner has described the local morgue as “full every night”, and the county has rented refrigerated trucks to keep the overload of bodies. The prosecutor’s office also said that county residents made 2,565 emergency room visits for drug overdoses from January 1 to June 30 of last year, which is an average of 14.2 each day.

The lawsuit is alleging that the “deceptive and misleading market of opioids” by the manufacturers and the “careless, even reckless, distribution of opioids in the county by distributors correlate directly to skyrocketing addiction, overdose and death, black markets for diverted prescription opioids, and an associated rise in heroin and fentanyl abuse by individuals who could no longer legally acquire – or simply could not afford – prescription opioids”.

The suits were filed in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The county is joining Dayton and the State of Ohio with the lawsuits.