LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai County is the first in the state to take legal action against the makers, marketers and distributors of opioid pain medications.
It's a step forward in the ongoing battle against opioid addiction in the islands.
"Opioid abuse is a serious issue and threat to our community, and the time for action is now," Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said. "To be clear, this is not a fight against hospitals or medical providers. We are pursuing litigation against manufacturers, marketers, and distributors of opioid pain medications who have irresponsibly spread this terrible epidemic upon our community."
County officials announced the suit Wednesday. With the support of the county council, the administration is seeking relief for civil penalties, treble damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs, officials said.
The specific amount of relief is undisclosed, and will be proven at trial.
"The ill effects of opioids have been strongly felt in our community, and now is the time to act," said County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask. "It is our responsibility to hold manufacturers, marketers, and distributors accountable for the opioid epidemic that has caused great pain to many of our families and friends."
Recent studies show that prescription opioid use leads to heroin use in about two years time.
And Kauai police say they've seized more black tar heroin in the first three months of this year than they did in all of 2017.
From 1999 to 2013, opioids have claimed about 175,000 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.
This story may be updated.