The opioid epidemic has affected nearly every aspect of life in Vinton County. Teachers buy shoes for students whose addicted parents send them to school in footwear held together with tape. Overdose deaths have surged. Foster care is overwhelmed. The jail is bursting at the seams.

The expenses related to caring for the children of drug abusers and locking up drug offenders here eat up about 25 percent of the Ohio county’s $4 million annual budget, a hole that it can’t plug. Now, Vinton officials think someone should help foot the bill: Big Pharma. (…)

As communities continue to reel and police and emergency responders struggle to keep the addicted alive, the biggest fight against the opioid epidemic is being waged in a federal courthouse in Cleveland, where hundreds of lawsuits brought by cities, counties, Native American tribes and unions have been brought together into one case with a scope that rivals anything seen in the U.S. legal system.

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