OSAGE | Mitchell County may join a class-action lawsuit targeting opioid manufacturers.

The suit is being brought on behalf of cities and towns who are choosing to sue opioid manufacturers, County Attorney Mark Walk said during the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday.

If the county chose to join it, Walk said there would be no cost.

Mitchell County Sheriff Greg Beaver said Osage has "all kinds of costs related to drugs, from crime to housing inmates."

“People get hooked on painkillers like oxycontin, and when they stop being able to get it, they switch to things like heroin," Beaver said. "Ninety percent of crimes around the county — the domestic abuses, the robberies — could be solved if we could get rid of the drugs.”

“While there have not been any deaths in Mitchell County from opioid overdoses, there have been drug arrests within the county and overdoses which have been treated at the hospital,” supervisor Shannon Paulus said. “There have also been robberies and other crimes committed, within the county, that are directly related to the pursuit, sale and purchasing of these drugs.”

A New York City firm is filing the suit and sending similar letters to cities and towns across the countries. The firm says opioid manufacturers knew there was no way the population of small towns could be supporting the amount of pills that were being sent to them.

“It should have been a red flag,” Paulus said. “I’m not surprised about the class-action suit; we have been discussing the opioid epidemic at the substance abuse coalition and how much it has grown. I feel like this is going to be a message to the manufacturers.

“They should have known, just with the amount of prescriptions going out. They convinced the medical profession of this new product, but they weren’t careful of how much of this potent drug was getting out there.

"I want it to change," Paulus said.

The supervisors were expected to revisit the potential for joining the lawsuit at this week's meeting.

Chrystal Berche is a correspondent for the Mitchell County Press-News, another Lee Enterprises newspaper.