Metro-East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Jersey County State’s Attorney Ben Goetten (Photo courtesy of Jersey County Office of the State’s Attorney)

Jersey County files opioid law suit

Jersey County has joined the growing list of counties across Illinois and the nation suing pharmaceutical companies in an effort to curb opioid abuse.

A suit filed June 27 in Jersey County’s Seventh Judicial Circuit Court in Jersey County alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the state’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act on the part of 15 major U.S. pharmaceutical firms.

Listed as plaintiffs in the suit are the State of Illinois, the people of Jersey County, Jersey County through the office of County State’s Attorney Benjamin L. Goetten, and special assistant state’s attorneys who are assisting with the case.

Named as plaintiffs in the Jersey County suits are:

  • 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 Jansen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Endo Health Solutions, Inc.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLC
  • Actavis, Inc., f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Watson Laboratories, Inc.
  • Actavis LLC, and
  • Actavis Pharma , Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a sharp increase in opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths over recent years.

Much of the concern centers on the prescription pain reliever, OxyContin, introduced by Purdue Pharmaceutical in 1996.

Like other areas, Southwestern Illinois is seeing an “epidemic that is increasingly out of control and exhausting our community’s resources, so, while our citizens suffer, these drug companies continue to see an exponential increase in profits,” said Ann Callis, a former Madison County Chief Judge who has been appointed an assistant state’s attorney in Jersey County to assist with the litigation.

According to the CDC, more Americans now die each year from drug overdoses than from car accidents. The opioid epidemic is as prevalent in rural areas as in urban and suburban areas, the agency adds.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly filed a similar suit against two pharmaceutical houses earlier this year.

Across the nation, a number of specialized law firms have begun assisting local jurisdictions in filling such suits.

Madison County facing $4 million in pension plan shortfalls

Madison County has more than $4 million in unfunded employee pension plans liabilities, according to presentations by County Treasurer Chris Slusser at two county board committee meetings last month.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Department retirement plan faces a shortage of more than $3.625 million. The county’s retirement programs for elected officials has a negative balance of approximately $601,000, plus an additional $964,904 in “unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities,” according to Slusser.

The pension fund deficits mean the county must borrow money to meet current retirement benefit payment obligations.

Over past 10 years, Madison County has incurred around $3.8 million in interest charges on those loans, Slusser says.

County officials plan to meet this month to develop a strategy to address the pension fund deficits.

Illinois Humanities opens Metro East office

Illinois Humanities, a nonprofit that provides resources and support to cultural organizations throughout the state, opened its new Southwestern Illinois office July 5 in Edwardsville’s Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities.

The new office “will enable us to engage more fully with communities in southern and western Illinois,” said Angel Ysaguirre, executive director of Illinois Humanities. “The opening of our southwestern Illinois office presents an exciting opportunity for us to enhance our role as a statewide cultural institution as the Illinois Bicentennial approaches.”

Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois Humanities serves as the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and draws on the methods of humanities disciplines such as history, literature and philosophy to conduct original programs in five focus areas: public policy, media and journalism, business, art and access.

Chester-native Matt Meacham will staff the organization’s Metro East office.

Macy’s opens discount store in Fairview Heights

Department store giant Macy’s opened its first discount store in the St. Louis region June 17 in Fairview Heights. Macy’s Backstage: The Outlet Store offers fashion, home, cosmetics, gifts, active wear and jewelry items — including brands not generally carried by the retailer — in an 18,000-square-foot section on the first floor of Macy’s general line department store in St. Clair Square.

Marcy’s launched the Backstage concept in 2015, amid declining sales at its traditional department stores. The Cincinnati-based retailed currently has at least 33 Backstage outlets at freestanding locations or within department stores around the nation. The new Fairview Heights store is among 30 the company plans to open this year.

Macy’s closed its traditional department store in Alton Square on Jan. 24.

Madison County Museum names new superintendent

Award-winning educator Jon L. Parkin has been named the new superintendent of the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library in Edwardsville. His first task: work with Madison County and the Madison County Historical Society Board to re-open the museum — currently closed for renovations — as soon as possible. He is expected to develop a schedule for completion of renovation work shortly.

The museum has not had a permanent director since the November 30 retirement of long-time Superintendent Suzanne Dietrich. Mary Westerhold, the museum’s archival library research manager, has been serving as Interim superintendent.

A long-time Edwardsville School District 7 instructor, Parkin began working as a part-time administrator at the museum on June 5 and assumed his new full-time position this month.

Until the museum renovations are completed, Parkin will have temporary offices at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 N. Main St.


–Metro-East Area News Briefs–