June 6, 2018

Framingham files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

PHOTOS/Edd Cote
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer

Framingham has joined a growing list of Central Massachusetts town to file lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers for their role in the opioid crisis that has gripped the area for years.

Mayor Yvonne Spicer announced the lawsuit Tuesday, which intends to hold opioid makers responsible for the financial burden on the city and strain on the city's public resources, including social and human services, law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders.

According to Spicer, Framingham had 213 opioid overdoses in 2016, including 18 deaths, the latter of which tripled since 2012.

Per state Department of Public Health data, there were seven overdose deaths in the city last year, but additional cases are still being confirmed.

Middlesex County, which includes Framingham, reported the highest number of overdose deaths last year with 346. Since 2000, 2,905 have died of opioid overdoses, nearly 900 more than the next highest -- Essex County -- with 2,053.

The city has retained Connecticut-based law firm Scott + Scott to represent it in the lawsuit. The firm will only be paid if the city's lawsuit is successful.

In a statement, Spicer said the issue was personal to her and many Framingham residents.

"In addition to the various programs we discussed in that conversation, this lawsuit, and its promising potential to offset the financial burden this disease imposes our municipal budget, is yet another part of our strategic approach to ending this crisis in our city," she said.

The city joins a growing list of cities and towns to file suits against pharmaceutical companies. Last week, Spencer, Sutton and Warren filed suit.

Worcester filed suit in February, and Auburn, Charlton, Dudley, Northbridge, Southbridge, Sturbridge and Winchendon have also filed suit.

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