The City of Louisville, Ky., filed a lawsuit against three major pharmaceutical distributors Monday, alleging they helped create the city’s opioid epidemic by over-saturating the market with addictive pills.
Drug manufacturers and distributors have faced more than 25 lawsuits from states and cities in 2017 for their alleged role in sparking America’s opioid crisis, which killed more Americans in 2016 alone, than those who died in the entire Vietnam War. The Louisville lawsuit, filed by Mayor Greg Fischer, named Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson as defendants. The companies combined control 85 percent of the drug distribution market, Louisville Insider reported Monday.
“We have a lost generation of people addicted to opiates,” Fischer said at a Monday press conference. “We’ve seen a spike in violent crime tied directly to the sale and misuse of opioids. We are spending millions of dollars on health, public safety and justice expenses tied to this epidemic, money that instead could go to lifelong learning, to affordable housing, to pave more roads, plant more trees. So it is only right that the for-profit companies that fueled this epidemic be part in ending it. We intend to see that they are.”
Louisville is one of several jurisdictions around Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia to sue the three distributors, with Cincinnati filing its own lawsuit earlier in August. Fischer said each of the cities have hired the same group of law firms for the litigation process.
The Department of Justice levied a $150 million fine against McKesson in January, but according to Louisville attorney Mike O’Connell, it had virtually no effect. (RELATED: Another State Sues ‘Fraudulent’ Big Pharma Over Drug Crisis)
“These companies have profited off this epidemic to such a degree that fines of $150 million or more are simply viewed as a cost of doing business,” O’Connell said at the press conference. “So yes, I think there is liability on the part of these distributors that has left our taxpayers in this community and other communities around this nation holding the bill.”
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency on Aug. 10, and announced he would be pushing for legislation to officially classify it as such.
“It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had,” Trump said. “You know when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years.”
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