Are Pharmaceutical Companies Responsible for the Opioid Crisis?

The city of Philadelphia believes so. City officials are looking to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their part in the crisis by suing them under a city false claims act.

The lawsuit seeks to have the pharmaceutical companies pay for the city of Philadelphia's expenses for the treatment of residents addicted to opioids and suffering from opioid abuse disorder. "City agencies have incurred tremendous and avoidable costs trying to combat this crisis," City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said at a press conference. "Because it is our duty to protect the public from further harm, I believe we have no other choice than to file this lawsuit." The expenses are estimated in the millions of dollars.

City officials estimate that one-third of Philadelphia residents have received an opioid prescription within the last 12 months. That's 469,000 people. Accorrding to Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner, "There's a legitimate use for prescription opioids in medical care, but nothing can justify this flood of prescribing these drugs."

Philadelphia has trained and equipped first-responders to treat opioid overdoses, funded addiction treatment programs, and increased funding for the city's criminal justice and prison systems. 

Now, city officials are demanding Philly gets its money back. It will be interesting to see if other municipalities follow suit.