Holmes said Seattle’s lawsuit would seek to “recover what’s been lost” because of the opioid epidemic. The suit refers to defendants as the makers of brand names like OxyContin and Percocet as well as generics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
He said the city spends millions each year for first responders who deal with overdoses, social workers who help treat people with addiction, and park employees who pick up needles instead of doing other work.
Holmes also linked the epidemic to the city’s homelessness crisis. He referenced a 2016 city assessment that concluded a main cause of someone losing their home, second only to job loss, was drug addiction. “Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, this disaster is human-made,” Holmes said.
Purdue issued a statement Thursday in response to the lawsuits, saying it was seeking motions to dismiss similar suits in other states.
My opinion? Kudos to WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson and City Attorney Pete Holmes for having the courage to file these lawsuits. More power to them. I hope they recover a huge amount of damages from these companies and make positive change happen.
As a criminal defense attorney, I’ve seen an increase of otherwise upstanding and law-abiding citizens commit crimes because of their drug addictions. The trend is disturbing. It begins with people suffering from physical injuries or mental sicknesses. They take pain killers prescribed from a doctor. Eventually, the person gets addicted to the pain killers, loses their medical insurance and turns to street drugs like heroin or methamphetamine to continue supporting their drug habit.
Sure, it’s easy to label people as drug abusers who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. However, it’s harder to call people drug abusers when the drug is sold as “medicine” which is (over)prescribed from a doctor. Many addicts – again, good people, mind you – end up homeless. Indeed, recent data shows that opiate use has increased in homeless populations.
Finally, our government is acknowledging these trends. Washington State is not the only state suing drug companies like Purdue. Oklahoma
, and New Hampshire
are also suing. Delaware and many others are considering it.
When OxyContin came out, it was promoted to healthcare practitioners as a “wonder-drug.” The initial 1995 literature and in-service training about this new med in the hospitals and clinics back then was that it was better than morphine, because it was more powerful, less addictive, and lasted longer (sustained release).