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Upstate Cities Sue Opioid Manufacturers


The cities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Plattsburgh have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers. The cities are hoping to recoup expenses from a crisis they say has placed a strain on taxpayers.

The cities collectively announced the lawsuits Tuesday.

Last year, more than 2.1 million people in the United States were affected by opioid abuse. According to the CDC, “around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.”

The cities, represented by law firm Dreyer Boyajian LaMarche Safranko PLLC, claim they have “incurred substantial economic, administrative and social costs” related to fighting the opioid crisis.

Attorney Donald Boyajian has also worked on the opioid issue in the City of Plattsburgh…

“When they have to react to overdose calls, which are at epidemic levels unheard of in the past, it strains the already strained city budgets,” said Boyajian.

The list of communities and counties in New York targeting opioid makers is growing.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says her city is filing suit, similar to a move made by Albany County.

“To ensure that our residents also have a seat at the table as these lawsuits continue and as discussions continue, and I think they’ll ultimately be successful,” said Sheehan.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said the suit attempts to address the “root cause” of the addiction crisis.

“All in the pursuit of massive profits, these pharmaceutical companies and their distributors downplayed or outright denied the addictive nature of this class of drugs. That is unconscionable behavior,” said Madden.

Mayor Gary McCarthy of Schenectady says his city’s police and emergency medical services and related follow-up have been impacted by the opioid crisis.

“How do we recover some of those costs that are being driven by, I believe, poor marketing and poor decision making at corporate levels?’ asked McCarthy.

Although the cities may have different economies, McCarthy says they’re all facing a similar issue.

“We’re trying to send that message collectively and do it in a manner that complements some of the lawsuits that have been filed by county governments,’ said McCarthy.

Including Schenectady County.

With lawsuits filed in New York State Supreme Courts in each of the cities’ respective county, the complaints name defendants Purdue, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation.

Again, attorney Donald Boyajian.

“The challenge is going to be for cities is to marshal the proof, marshal the evidence, marshal the facts and it’s a painstaking effort to go through the various departments and essentially quantify what those damages have been and what those expenses have been. And that’s part of the ongoing process,” said Boyajian.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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