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Miami Joins 250 Cities Suing Drug Makers For Allegedly Fueling Opioid Deaths

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Miami is the latest city to sue pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in igniting the opioid epidemic through knowingly false marketing schemes.

City officials filed the lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade County against both opioid drug makers and distributors, including Purdue Pharma and Walgreens. Drug companies intentionally downplayed the risks for abuse of opioid painkillers to boost sales and profits, creating widespread addiction throughout the country, the suit alleges, according to the Miami Herald reported.

The city is seeking damages for the heavy financial toll of the addiction crisis, claiming drug companies created a public nuisance through their manipulative advertising.

“We believe the pharmaceutical industry knowingly inflicted a great burden on the people of the city of Miami and our nation,” said Emilio González, city manager for Miami, according to the Miami Herald.

Miami is the latest major U.S. city to target the pharmaceutical industry for their role in the opioid epidemic. Officials in New York City and Philadelphia filed lawsuits against drug makers in early January, followed closely by a lawsuit from Baltimore’s officials. There are currently roughly 250 lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors filed by U.S. cities, counties and states.

Pharmaceutical companies previously denied any claims of wrongdoing and are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic, they said.

“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis, and we are dedicated to being part of the solution,” a Purdue Pharma spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to a lawsuit the New Jersey attorney general filed. “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016 — a 28 percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015, according to data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Dec. 21, 2017.

Opioid overdose made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer.

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