By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's record number of drug overdose deaths and the state's fight to slow the addictions epidemic are among the reasons hundreds of lawsuits against drugmakers are being heard in a Cleveland courtroom.
A federal courts panel decided last month that the lawsuits should be consolidated before federal Judge Dan Polster.
The judge is now overseeing more than 200 lawsuits against drug companies brought by local communities across the country, including those in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
The lawsuits accuse drugmakers and distributors of not doing enough to contain the spread of addictive painkillers that have killed thousands.
The panel also cited Cleveland's proximity to drugmakers' headquarters in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the judge's experience on a previous multi-lawsuit case.