New York City files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

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Political reporter Dave Evans has the details on the lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

New York City is suing the nation's largest opioid manufacturers and distributors in an effort to hold them accountable for what officials call their role in the city's ongoing opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit aims to recover half a billion dollars in current and future costs the city will incur. In 2016, more than 1,000 people in New York City died in overdoses that involved an opioid, the highest year on record. More New Yorkers died from opioid overdoses last year than from car accidents and homicides combined.

The legal action announced Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio joins hundreds of municipalities that say drug companies should be held accountable for the drug-abuse crisis.

"Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit," de Blasio said. "It's time for hold the companies accountable for what they've done to our city and help save more lives."

Drug distributors and manufacturers named in the lawsuits have said they don't believe litigation is the answer but have pledged to help solve the crisis. It was not immediately clear whether New York's suit would be combined with others around the country.

Manufacturer named in the suit are Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson& Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; OrthoMcNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLC; Actavis, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc.

The distributors are McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health, Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Corporation.

Rates of drug overdose deaths in New York City more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 19.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016. Officials say that while drug overdose deaths impact every neighborhood and demographic in New York City, residents of impoverished neighborhoods are the hardest hit. Roughly 2.7 million opioid prescriptions were filled within New York City each year between 2014 and 2016.

Under HealingNYC, a $38 million initiative to address the opioid epidemic, the Health Department has already distributed over 60,000 naloxone kits to opioid overdose prevention programs; expanded access to medications for addiction treatment; launched Relay, a new peer-based program in hospital emergency departments for people who experienced an overdose; trained more than 630 clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine; offered 1:1 education on judicious opioid prescribing to 1,000 doctors; and significantly increased community outreach and public education efforts.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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healthopioidsoverdoseprescription drugsNew York City
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