Cherokee Nation, Grappling With Opioid Crisis, Takes Legal Action

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Tahlequah, Okla. (CBS News) — Sasha and Kane Wyatt are members of the Cherokee Nation in northeast Oklahoma. They adopted their son Luke when he was just eight days old.

His birth mother was addicted to opioids — and so was he.

“I remember holding him and just crying — I am trying not to cry right now — it was so hard to see him go through something like that,” Sasha said.

Oklahoma has one of the most severe opioid problems in the nation, and it’s especially bad in the 14 counties that make up the Cherokee Nation.

“It’s devastating to our people,” said Todd Hembree, the Cherokee Nation’s attorney general.

Earlier this year, he sued America’s three largest pharmacies — Walmart, Walgreens and CVS — and the three largest prescription drug distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

“They know what they are doing is wrong and they need to be held accountable,” Hembree said.

The complaint accuses the companies of “regularly fulfilling suspicious orders” and “ignoring ‘red flags'” which “allowed massive amounts of opioid pills to be diverted from legitimate channels of distribution into the illicit black market.”

The lawsuit asks for billions in damages.

Read more and see video here.

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