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Leech Lake Ojibwe sue drug companies over opioids

CASS LAKE, Minn. — The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is suing the country’s largest opioid drug manufacturers and the three largest prescription drug distributors.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Minnesota.

The Leech Lake Band alleges the companies used deceptive marketing tactics to maximize profits while minimizing the addictive nature of these drugs and the health risks to patients.

A statement from the tribe Thursday cites data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that in 2014 Native Americans had the highest rate per 100,000 people of opioid overdoses. In the four-county area containing Leech Lake’s tribal lands, it says, opioid-related deaths have increased dramatically.

Several local governments across the country have filed similar lawsuits. Representatives for the drug companies have denied any wrongdoing.

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