February 28, 2018

Worcester to file suit against opioid makers

Photo/Grant Welker
The City of Worcester will join more than 30 Massachusetts cities and towns that are suing companies that make and distribute opioids, seeking damages for costs incurred by the drug crisis. Worcester will file its own lawsuit, while other communities, like Charlton, have joined together to sue pharmaceutical companies.

The City of Worcester on Wednesday announced it will file a lawsuit against companies making and distributing opioids, seeking damages for the cost of opioid treatment and prevention in the city.

The law firm Scott & Scott, Attorneys at Law LLP, which has an office in Colchester, Conn., as well as New York, Ohio and California, has been retained to file the lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court, according to a statement from City Manager Edward Augustus' office.

The defendants will include at least two sets of culpable parties, including three major opioid distributors – AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc. and McKesson Corp., as well as opioid manufacturers who the city said are "engaged in a multi-pronged and multi-million dollar campaign of deception regarding the safety and appropriate use of their prescription opioids."

Additional defendants may be named, according to the city, which did provide specific figures related to the cost of the opioid epidemic to the city. The costs include money spent on treatment and prevention programs; health insurance payments for City of Worcester employees, retirees and their family members who required treatments; costs incurred by first responders for overdose calls; court- and crime-related expenses; and other general expenses.

The city cited the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which reported 1,501 confirmed opioid-related deaths across the state in 2017.

"The human cost of the opioid epidemic both here in Worcester and throughout Massachusetts has been catastrophic," Augustus said Wednesday. "This litigation is just one aspect of our continued commitment to do everything we can to save lives."

Worcester joins more than 30 cities and towns across Massachusetts who have filed suit seeking damages related to the opioid epidemic, the Massachusetts Municipal Association said this month. Charlton voted to join a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation from drug companies for opioid-related costs, and other area towns are reportedly mulling suits as well.


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