Cherokee Nation sues opioid wholesalers, retailers for abuse

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- The Cherokee Nation is suing wholesalers and retailers of opioid medications, alleging the companies haven't done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioids, which are powerful painkillers.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Cherokee Nation District Court, which has jurisdiction within 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma that comprise the Cherokee Nation.

Among other things, it alleges the companies have created conditions in which "vast amounts" of the drugs flow freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers.

It says wholesalers and pharmacies regularly turn a "blind eye" to opioid prescriptions that would require further investigation before pills are dispensed.

The lawsuit alleges opioid distributors have benefited financially from opioid abuse and seeks restitution for health care costs incurred by the tribe to treat opioid-addicted citizens.

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