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Delray Beach to consider holding pharmaceutical companies liable for overdose epidemic with lawsuit

Posted at 7:37 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 19:49:59-04

Delray Beach is considering holding big pharma accountable for the opioid epidemic.

The city’s mayor presented the idea of suing the companies that produce painkillers. Many blame Oxycontin and similar drugs for introducing users to heroin. 

States like Ohio and Mississippi have made similar moves.

Hardly a day goes by without an overdose in Palm Beach County. Delray Beach seems to be the epicenter.

Tuesday, Mayor Cary Glickstein said each overdose costs the city about $2,000.

But he added there may be a way to recoup that money: file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for deceptive and unfair marketing.

“It’s part of turning the screws in doing what we can to not see the next generation of addicts,” Glickstein said at a city workshop meeting.

Before Glickstein left town Wednesday for a city business trip, he invited attorneys to speak with commissioners about a potential lawsuit. He explained the suit wouldn’t cost the city anything, unless a judge awards the city money.

“The genesis of this thing is difficult to pinpoint,” admitted David Ray, the CEO of Immersion Recovery Center in Delray Beach.

He has seen people become addicted to painkillers and then move on to heroin when pills become too expensive.

“You’re really hooked at that point,” he said, adding the results of that addiction can be fatal.

Ray hopes beyond money, a lawsuit launches a conversation that changes attitudes toward drugs like the way lawsuits against tobacco changed behaviors about smoking.

“Through legislation and litigation, we were able to curb that and socially the norm the idea that smoking is not cool. I think we can begin to try to do the same thing with opioids,” Ray explained.

Glickstein said now is a good time to file a suit because other governments have won similar lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

There is no scheduled date yet for attorneys to brief city commissioners about their options.