Orange County is the first Hudson Valley county to sue drug companies over the opioid addiction epidemic.

Orange is the fourth county in New York to file a lawsuit over the opioid epidemic. Suffolk, Broome, and Erie counties recently filed similar actions.

The lawsuit alleges that pharmaceutical companies and physicians have been over aggressive and fraudulent when prescribing opium-like painkillers, which led to a significant public health risk in the Hudson Valley.

“I have met people across the County who have shared their stories about how opioids have caused addiction related problems for themselves or their friends and families,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “We want those responsible to compensate the taxpayers for the public funds the County has had to pay to address opioid addiction.”

In the complaint filed in the New York Supreme Court, Orange County wants relief including compensatory and punitive damages for the millions of dollars it spends to combat the public health issue created by the drug companies’ deceptive marketing campaigns that misrepresent the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use.

“The opioids epidemic has resulted in great losses and injury to Orange County and its residents,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Paul Hanly, who will serve as lead counsel in the case. “This action seeks to hold opioid manufacturers and others responsible for their conspiratory and fraudulent actions, including the manufacture, promotion and marketing of opioids that has omitted critical, long-accepted information about the drugs’ addictive qualities and other risks associated with their prolonged use.”

The lawsuit alleges deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, public nuisance, violation of New York Social Services laws, fraud and unjust enrichment against Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; as well as physicians Russell Portenoy, Perry Fine, Scott Fishman and Lynn Webster, who allegedly were instrumental in promoting opioids.

According to the New York State Department of Health, in Orange County in 2014, there was 943 opioid-related emergencies, an increase of 17.5 percent since 2010. In 2015, 44 Orange County residents died from overdoses involving opioid pain relievers.

“Families across America, including here in Orange County, have been impacted by opioid related addictions,” Neuhaus said. “This litigation is part of our efforts to avoid more opioid addiction and also to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers and those who have aided them in the sale and distribution of these highly addictive drugs accountable.”

35 were arrested for selling heroin, sex offenders moving to local motels and a deadly tick are in this week's Top 5 Hudson Valley news stories.

More From Hudson Valley Post