I was surprised and disappointed at the ignorance shown by county commissioners Rick Hannold and Jill Johnson at the meeting to decide whether the county should join the 400-plus counties suing the manufacturers of Oxycontin for knowingly creating the false advertising that created the opioid crisis in our country.
Not that I care whether the county joins the suit or not. It sounds like there are plenty of plaintiffs without us. But comments by the commissioners showed that, two decades into the crisis, two of our three our elected leaders do not really think we have a problem here.
Fortunately, various county officials and deputies were present to correct their misinformation, but it’s still depressing to realize that a problem that has been destroying so many Whidbey families for so many years hasn’t apparently captured their attention.
Hannold dismissed the suit as just a “money grab” by counties and cities, totally ignoring the huge costs to the public, including Island County, of dealing with the legal and social costs of addiction.
In our society, lawsuits are one of the only tools we have for correcting corporate misbehavior that results in injury and death. In a better world this wouldn’t be necessary, but currently it’s only the threat of financial harm that discourages corporations from wrongdoing and provides money to try to compensate for the harm that has been done.
These companies advertised that their pills were not addictive when their own studies showed otherwise. To dismiss the harm done by that lie by saying that of course all advertisers lie, is horrifying. Yes, many advertisers lie, but not all lies are equally harmful.
Rick Hannold and Jill Johnson should be ashamed to be so ignorant of the cause of suffering of so many of their constituents and their families.