MISSOULA- The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is suing more than a dozen opioid manufacturers in federal court, alleging they misrepresented the risk of addiction and contributed to the opioid epidemic on reservations.
The lawsuit, filed last Friday in federal court in Missoula, claims the companies have created a “public nuisance” that has resulted in overdoses and death and that abuse of the drugs has caused a financial burden for the tribe.
The tribe claims it has seen “child welfare and foster care costs associated with families impacted by the opioid epidemic significantly increase, health and welfare services are overwhelmed, education and treatment resources are inundated, and members of the Tribe have been adversely impacted by this epidemic.”
The lawsuit also claims the defendants “flooded the market with false statements designed to persuade both doctors and patients that prescription opioids posed a low risk of addiction.”
The suit says opioid prescription rates for counties surrounding the Northern Cheyenne reservation are higher than the rest of the state and the rest of the nation.
The Northern Cheyenne is the second Montana tribe to file suit against makers and distributors of opioids. The Blackfeet Tribe filed a similar lawsuit last summer.