TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - A record number of Oklahomans died last year due to drug overdoses. Mark Woodward, with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, tells KRMG the largest percentage of those deaths were attributed to opioids.
Now, Cherokee Nation is suing wholesalers and retailers of opioid medications. The tribe says companies haven't done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioids.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Cherokee Nation District Court, which has jurisdiction within 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma.
The tribe says wholesalers and pharmacies regularly turn a "blind eye" to opioid prescriptions.
The lawsuit alleges opioid distributors have benefited financially from opioid abuse and seeks restitution for health care costs incurred by the tribe to treat opioid-addicted citizens.