North Carolina’s third largest city is joining the state and a number of other municipalities in filing a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.
On Tuesday night the Greensboro City Council passed a resolution saying “the opioid crisis unreasonably interferes with rights common to the general public of Greensboro,” and “involves a significant interference with the public health, safety, peace, comfort, and convenience of citizens and residents of Greensboro.”
It’s technically not a class-action suit, according to Mike Fox of the Tuggle Duggins law firm in Greensboro, one of the local attorneys who will handle the case. The city will be able to negotiate independently if leaders don’t feel the settlement is high enough, he said.
Hundreds of local governments across the country have joined the suit in an attempt to recoup the millions they’ve spent fighting opioid addiction and the fallout from related issues.
“This is something that is tearing our community apart,” Fox said. “The crisis is real, and communities like Greensboro all across the country are struggling to find a solution to it.”
Fox said the city will argue that manufacturers and distributors violated laws on drug distribution and reporting; were negligent by selling drugs they knew would cause harm; and were fraudulent in their claims that opioids are not as addictive as now believed.
Late last year Attorney General Josh Stein announced his office was filing suit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., manufacturer of Subsys, a synthetic opioid spray.
The drug is about 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more than morphine. The lawsuit alleges the company used kickbacks, fraud and deceptive marketing to push doctors to prescribe the highly addictive drug to patients for which it wasn’t approved.
The drug, approved for cancer patients experiencing pain that other drugs can’t address, has been much more widely prescribed. Over-prescription of such drugs has greatly contributed to the ongoing opioid epidemic.