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Cities, counties ask Big Pharma to limit opioids production

In Cleveland, last week more than 125 attorneys packed into a federal courtroom to begin the process of hammering out a global opioid settlement.

The group included representatives from the country's largest opioid manufacturers and distributors as well as lawyers for over 200 cities and counties who are suing them. The local governments are seeking damages from the drug companies that they say caused the opioid epidemic. Also in the room were representatives from various state attorneys general offices who are suing and negotiating with the companies.

Speaking to federal district Judge Daniel Polster, lawyers for the counties and cities proposed that ultra-high-dosage opioids be permanently taken off the market, CBS News has learned. The products have long been criticized by public health experts.

One of the ultra-high-dosage products made by drugmaker Purdue Pharma is often prescribed to patients as a pill to be taken both morning and night for a total of 160 mg of OxyContin per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends doctors should avoid giving patients more than 90 milligrams per day.

Purdue Pharma did not respond to a request for comment about the meeting.

In court documents, Polster called the first meeting "productive" and noted that the next meeting will be on March 6, 2018 in Cleveland. Multiple states are still pursuing lawsuits against the companies and their participation in the settlement talks is voluntary.

According to preliminary numbers from the CDC, the number of deaths from opioids from June 2016 to June 2017 totaled 66,817, an increase of 16 percent.