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TWIN FALLS — The county will join a lawsuit to seek recovery for damages caused by the opioid crisis.

Twin Falls County Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to join a multi-district lawsuit in an Ohio federal court against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The county pays for opioid addiction through the jail, counseling, law enforcement and medical indigence, Commissioner Don Hall said.

“It’s very evident the toll the opioid epidemic has taken on the nation, and the human tragedy surrounding that,” Hall said.

Commissioners were recently approached by attorneys from Chicago law firm Keller Lenkner to join the lawsuit alongside more than 1,500 cities, including Twin Falls, which joined in June. The suit alleges opioid manufacturers and distributors aggressively pushed overprescription and oversupply, significantly increasing costs for city and county services.

Joining the lawsuit costs the county nothing unless it succeeds. It could make some money available to help combat addiction, Commissioner Jack Johnson said.

“The risk is virtually none to Twin Falls County for doing this,” Johnson said.

In July, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies, contending they deliberately downplayed the risks of opioids and aggressively encouraged use of the drugs. Wasden filed a similar lawsuit in June against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

Idaho opioid-related deaths tripled between 1999 and 2017. Wasden estimated those deaths cost the state more than $12 billion in economic losses over that period, the Associated Press reported.

Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order in June to establish an advisory committee tasked with coming up with recommendations and strategies to combat opioid and substance misuse in Idaho.

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