The City of Mobile is taking a much needed step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opiates into the community.
On Wednesday, the City filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.
The suit is against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies and against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors. The manufacturing companies pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids and falsely represented to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction. The distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids.
Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, Congress designed a system in 1970 to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country. It let only a select few wholesalers gain the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to do a very important job – halt suspicious orders and stop control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate uses. But in recent years, they failed to do that and Mobile is now paying the price.
The City of Mobile is working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors accountable for failing to do what they were charged with doing under the federal Controlled Substances Act – monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.
“Homes have been broken and families torn apart by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “The pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors failed in their legal obligation to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious orders, even as the number of pills flowing into our city rose and rose.”
The citizens of Mobile continue to bear the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement have continued to rise. According to a federal study, roughly 1 in 7 people who received a refill or had a second opioid prescription authorized were still on opioids one year later.