MINEOLA, Long Island - Eyewitness News has learned exclusively that Nassau County will file a lawsuit next week in New York State Court against 19 pharmaceutical companies and five local doctors, alleging the companies and the physicians knew about the addictiveness of prescription painkillers and didn't properly inform patients.
The county is seeking millions of dollars to recoup costs for its drug rehab programs, Narcan trainings and police overtime. The county believes the companies should also pay for expenses related to the county's heroin epidemic, alleging that many people who were addicted to prescription opioids have made the transition to heroin.
The lawsuit will also seek future funding for drug rehabilitation programs, clinics and law enforcement costs.
Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with the lead attorney on the case, Salvatore Badala of the firm Napoli Shkolnik.
"It's costing the county a lot of money to get these people off opioids," Badala said. "Just the number of opioid-related emergency room visits has doubled within four years. The number of opioid-related deaths doubled in Nassau County in just two years."
The lawsuit is similar to one already filed by Suffolk County last August. The county sued 11 pharmaceutical companies and four physicians. The lawsuit, like the one in Nassau, alleges the companies engaged in fraudulent and misleading marketing by leaving out details on the use of opioids and their potential addictiveness.
The pharmaceutical companies have filed a motion to dismiss Suffolk's lawsuit.
Watch Kristin's exclusive story today at 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Eyewitness News.
Click here for more stories about the heroin epidemic in the region.