Miami, a city that has been battling a horrible drug addiction could be the next city to add to the lawsuits to big pharma’s advancing legal troubles.
On Thursday, city commissioners are set to hire a private law firm to pursue a complaint against companies that manufacture & distribute prescription opioids that would look for compensation for the sources Miami has been forced to delegate to reviving victims who suffered from overdoses, policing drug-related crimes and healthcare.
The litigation, prompted by Commissioner Francis Suarez, would focus on allegations that pharmaceutical companies “have manufactured, promoted, and marketed opioid medications by omitting critical information about the drugs’ addictive qualities and other risks associated with prolonged use.”
“It’s become a country-wide epidemic and I think that the drug manufacturers and the distributors are responsible,” Suarez reported. “They know the highly addictive needs for the opioids and the destructive effect they have on society and yet they push and promulgate these drugs that are destroying families and cities.”
Prescription painkillers and heroin have caused an increasing number of fatalities and dozens of overdoses in South Florida in the last couple of years. It’s gotten so bad that Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared it an opioid epidemic in his state and on Tuesday called for new regulations and $50 million in funding from the state to attack this problem.
Through all of last year and the first six months of 2017, approximately 177 people have died in Miami from opioid overdoses, according to records collected by the Miami police department. That list does exclude non-fatal overdoses. It also doesn’t include the June death of Alton Banks, a 10-year-old boy who died of an alleged fentanyl overdose.
Last September, Miami’s fire chief reported that paramedics had dispensed an antidote used to fight overdoses of fentanyl, a prescription painkiller, to over 1,000 people during the first half of 2016, increased from 493 doses in 2015. The city’s costs for the medicine alone gained from $43,000 to more than $155,000 during the first nine months of 2016.
A number of states, cities and counties have been pursing lawsuits against big pharmas such as Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson over allegations that they are a part of the addiction outbreak crippling the nation.
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a trade association representing distributors, said in a statement that distributors “don’t make medicines, market medicines, prescribe medicines, or dispense them to consumers.”
“We are deeply engaged in the issue and are taking our own steps to be part of the solution — but we aren’t willing to be scapegoats,” stated senior vice president John Parker.