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Yurok Tribe Sues Drug Companies Over Opioid Epidemic


The Yurok Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit against 20 manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids, alleging the companies are responsible for spreading the scourge of drug use on the reservation and across the country. “The only difference between these companies and drug cartels is the fact that legal purveyors of prescription opioids have protection from law enforcement and seemingly unlimited funds to market and distribute to the masses their highly addictive drugs,” Amy Cordalis, the Yurok Tribe’s general counsel who is also a tribal member, said in a release. “There is not a single Yurok family that has not either directly or indirectly experienced the horrors of opiate addiction.” According to the release, the Yurok reservation is “one of only a handful of places where the U.S. opioid crisis initially took root.” Humboldt County has more opioid prescriptions than residents and a correspondingly high rate of overdose deaths — most involving methamphetamine or opiate intoxication — with 32 recorded in 2017, which was three times the state per-capita average and almost twice that of the nation. In 2016, 26 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Humboldt County — an average of one death every 14 days. “It is clear that we as a nation have been sold a bill of goods as it relates to opiate painkillers. These drugs have caused so much unnecessary heartache as well as the untimely deaths of many Native American and non-Indian people. The companies that produce, market and distribute them need to be held accountable,” Cordalis said. Read the full release from the Yurok Tribe below: The Yurok Tribe filed in federal court a RICO case against the pharmaceutical giants that are alleged to be responsible for the surging opioid epidemic in the United States and on the Yurok Reservation. “Without these pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers, the widespread abuse of prescription pain pills on tribal lands and across the entire US would never have reached the terrifying level it is at today,” said Amy Cordalis, the Yurok Tribe’s General Counsel and Yurok Tribal member. “The only difference between these companies and drug cartels is the fact that legal purveyors of prescription opioids have protection from law enforcement and seemingly unlimited funds to market and distribute to the masses their highly addictive drugs. There is not a single Yurok family that has…

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