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Navajo Nation Sues Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors, Pharmacies

Mike Mozart
Creative Commons
Walmart Stores, Inc. is one of the companies named in the suit, which includes a group of other opioid developers, manufacturers, and sellers.

The Navajo Nation is suing various companies involved in the production and sale of opioid drugs.

According to a release, the tribe filed the suit in U.S. District Court in New Mexico on Wednesday. It is directed at a group of over ten opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. It alleges they created a market for highly addictive drugs and failed to prevent their illicit use.


The tribe states its citizens have died from opioid overdoses, that its children have been placed in non-native custody after drug-related incidents, and that it has suffered enormous financial losses.


President Russell Begaye says Native Americans have disproportionately suffered during health crises for generations, and the opioid crisis is no different. Navajo Attorney General Ethel Branch adds the “Navajo Nation will not stand by and watch its people, its culture, and its heritage be destroyed” as a result of the epidemic.


The suit is the latest of a growing list of tribes across the country that have filed similar complaints accusing drug companies of opioid-related damages.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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