Opioid epidemic needs multi-prong solution

A collection of county attorneys in Minnesota announced last week they are suing the makers and distributors of opioid painkillers, the much-abused prescription pills that are part of a nation-wide epidemic.

The lawsuits, similar to other suits across the nation, seek to recover costs in dealing with the epidemic. The suits charge that drug companies and distributors have fueled the epidemic by over-marketing and pushing doctors to overprescribe the drugs.

Lawsuits to force pharmaceutical companies to be more responsible are one part of the solution to stopping the overdose deaths caused by opioid addiction. But the battle to contain the epidemic must be fought on other fronts as well. Law enforcement must crack down on those who sell them illegally. Health care providers must review their practices for prescribing the painkillers. There must be education programs to let people know the dangers of abusing these drugs. People who are addicted must receive the help they need to overcome their addictions.

It is not an easy or inexpensive campaign. Pharmaceutical companies should help by sharing some of the profits they have made from the sale of these drugs for the fight against the epidemic.