Mayor Henry announces lawsuit against opioid distributors

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – Mayor Tom Henry announced the City of Fort Wayne will file a public nuisance lawsuit against opioid distributors in an effort to hold accountable the companies responsible for bringing opiates into the community and making the opioid epidemic possible.

According to the Mayor’s office, the city has hired Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP based in Indianapolis as lead counsel. The law firm has experience and expertise in high profile cases both for and against large corporations.

The lawsuit is against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors – Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation. The three companies, with combined annual revenues of $400 billion and profits in the billions of dollars, together control more than 80 percent of the market for prescription opioids.

Mayor Henry was joined at Monday’s announcement by Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed, Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Lahey, and several partner agencies working to address the opioid crisis.

“Public health and public safety are critical components to ensuring Fort Wayne is a viable and sustainable community,” said Mayor Henry. “It’s our duty to serve and protect the public. Today’s action demonstrates our ongoing commitment to doing all we can to reduce the negative impact that drugs are having on individuals, families, healthcare, law enforcement and the judicial system.”

“The negative impact of the national drug crisis can be felt in our cities and our homes. The social, emotional and economic impact has been profound on families, in the workplace, in our healthcare systems and in our safety net agencies. To build the infrastructure necessary to provide family and community access to the resources necessary to combat this crisis requires innovative ideas and the ability to allocate resources based on the individual communities’ needs,” said Dr. McMahan. “The ground-breaking lawsuit filed by the Mayor against companies that have allegedly exacerbated the opioid crisis is our opportunity to bring much needed funds back to our community to appropriate in the best evidenced methods and bring resolution to this crisis.”

Highlights of opioid statistics from the Fort Wayne Police Department for January 1-December 1, 2017:
*94 overdose deaths with 50 pending

*1,130 overdose runs (98 in November alone)

*512 patients received Narcan/Naloxone (FWPD, FWFD, TRAA)
*Low-end estimate of approximately $90,000 in man-hours alone (no equipment, fuel, etc.) in responding to overdose calls so far this year
The release says that in addition to taking legal action, the City, Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and partner agencies will continue efforts to fight the opioid epidemic through proactive rehabilitation and prevention programs.

Funds recovered through a successful lawsuit would be used to assist the community in maximizing resources in overcoming the opioid epidemic through education, treatment and law enforcement initiatives.