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Arizona keeping close eye on courts as Ohio sues drugmakers over opioid crisis

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona is keeping a close eye on a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general against five drugmakers over his state’s opioid crisis.

“This lawsuit is about justice, it’s about fairness, it’s about what is right,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said when announcing the suit, adding the companies created a deadly mess in Ohio that they now need to pay to clean up.

As Ohio gears up for a court battle, Ducey’s office will be keeping up with the proceedings.

“We’re currently reviewing the recent Ohio lawsuit to see if there is a nexus with Arizona,” Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said.

Arizona is facing a similar problem to Ohio. Data released last week showed 790 Arizonans died in 2016 from an opioid overdose.

Ducey declared a health emergency on Monday — the first such declaration in a decade — because of the new numbers.

Scarpinato stopped short of saying Arizona was looking into a potential lawsuit similar to Ohio’s, but said Ducey’s office does see drugmakers as one part of a large problem.

“Certainly that is a piece of it — certainly those who are prescribing it are a piece of it,” he said. “Certainly illegal activity and drug transactions are a piece of it and anyone who is culpable here will be held accountable.”

Scarpinato said Ducey’s office has taken some steps to battle the epidemic, but the governor wants to take a more aggressive stance.

“The governor is very alarmed by [the opioid epidemic],” Scarpinato said. “We’ve taken some action previously, both legislative and through our agencies, but he really sees this as something that we need to be even more aggressive on.”

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