Every week in Montgomery County, Md., as many as 25 moms touched by tragedy meet to talk, laugh and cry.
They are all mothers whose sons and daughters have died of opioid overdoses. They call their support group S.O.U.L. for Surviving Our Ultimate Loss.
"They help you get through every day," said Amy Cassignol, whose son JP died of an overdose in 2016.
The women say large pharmaceutical companies share the blame for aggressively marketing opioid pain killers in the same way big tobacco companies were ultimately found liable for public health costs linked to smoking.
On Wednesday, the SOUL mothers gathered to applaud Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett for joining at least 100 other U.S. municipalities in filing lawsuits against large drug companies.
Leggett is seeking reimbursement for County expenses in responding to the crisis and aiming to stop future deceptive and misleading marketing practices that have contributed to the growing epidemic.
The county is suing 14 pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors
The companies named in the suit, which was filed in federal district court, include: Purdue Pharma L.P. of Stamford, CT; Cephalon, Inc. of Frazer, PA; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. of Israel; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. of North Wales, PA; Endo International PLC of Ireland; Endo Health Solutions Inc. of Malvern, PA; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Malvern, PA; Jansen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Raritan, NJ; Insys Therapeutics, Inc. of Chandler, AZ: Mallinckrodt PLC of the United Kingdom; Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of St. Louis, MO; AmerisourceBergen Corporation of Chesterbrook, PA; Cardinal Health, Inc. of Dublin, OH; and McKesson Corporation of San Francisco, CA.
“The Opioid crisis is wreaking severe damage on individuals and communities throughout our great nation – and Montgomery County is not immune,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Just ask the first-responders in our Fire & Rescue Service and our Police. Ask our front-line personnel in Health & Human Services. We are talking about addiction, death, broken lives, and broken families.
The lawsuit in being brought on a contingency basis on the County’s behalf by the firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.