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Md. County Sues Drug Companies, Doctors For Over-Prescribing Potent Pills

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Anne Arundel County leaders are taking aim at drug companies and so called "Pill Mill doctors" through a first of it's kind lawsuit in Maryland that holds them accountable for the state's growing opioid epidemic.

As cities and counties across Maryland continue to struggle to keep up with the state's opioid epidemic, Anne Arundel County has a new strategy to battle the growing health crisis.

County leaders say they hope to get back some of the millions they're spending to deal with the problem. They've identified doctors and companies who they say are responsible.

"Maryland is one of hardest hit states in the country, and within Maryland, Anne Arundel County is among one of the hardest hit counties,"  said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.

The County plans to file a lawsuit against the drug companies, distributors and so call "Pill Mill doctors" over-prescribing the potent pills.

"Anne Arundel County is among the first jurisdictions in the country to file this kind of lawsuit," Schuh said.

Schuh says the companies underplayed the danger of prescription opioids and says several local doctors are now on their radar.

"We know exactly who they are. We know who they are from their prescribing habits, and we're coming after them," he said.

In the first three months of 2017, Maryland saw 550 overdose deaths. Anne Arundel County says they're on pace for 150 overdose deaths this year alone.

County officials say it's costing them millions in taxpayer dollars to fight this battle. They're hoping with the lawsuit, they'll be able to get some of the money so they can continue fighting the war.

"It's draining us everyday. Everyday, job one for us is to fight the heroin and opioid crisis," said chief Tim Altomare of the Anne Arundel County police.

Officers on the front lines say they're dealing more calls for robberies, thefts and other crimes stemming from prescription drugs.

"Today's criminal, today's bad guy is very likely suffering from an addiction problem," Altomare said.

County officials say they have been in talks with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to possibly include more counties on the lawsuit.

The firm taking on the case is doing so for free, and is currently litigating other opioid addiction cases in other parts of the country.

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