Judge urges action on '100 percent manmade' opioid crisis

He likened the epidemic to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic

COLUMBUS (AP) - A federal judge has likened the nation's opioid epidemic to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic while noting the drug crisis is "100 percent manmade."

Judge Dan Polster is urging participants on all sides of lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths.

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Polster made his comments during a hearing Tuesday in his Cleveland courtroom. The judge is overseeing dozens of lawsuits against drug companies brought by communities across the country, including California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

The judge said he believes everyone from drugmakers to doctors to individuals bear some responsibility for the crisis and haven't done enough to stop it.

The government tallied 63,600 overdose drug deaths in 2016, another record.