The Detroit City Council has approved funding to hire two law firms to represent the city as they sue opioid drugmakers and distributors they say are responsible for the opioid crisis.
The council approved the hiring of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan and the firm Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. in Detroit to provide the city with representation in the lawsuit, which the council plans to file by the end of the year.
In October, the Michigan counties of Oakland and Wayne announced that they would be filing a joint lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. That lawsuit alleges that 12 big pharma companies violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, among other laws and consumer protections.
In 2016, the number of opioid overdose related deaths in Wayne County totaled 817, compared with 506 opioid related deaths in 2015.
According to the Oakland and Wayne Counties lawsuit, one of the primary causes of the opioid addiction epidemic is the deceptive marketing and sales practices used by the pharmaceutical companies. The counties cited a plethora of financial consequences that had been created by the opioid crisis, including law enforcement costs and substance abuse treatment plans.
As the opioid crisis continues to ravage the country, driving the need for adequate access to addiction recovery treatment across the U.S., many similar lawsuits have been filed. Other cities, such as Chicago, have filed suits against big pharma companies, as well as multiple states, including Ohio and Missouri.
According to the Detroit City Council, the proliferation of opioids has increased the city’s medical and substance abuse treatment costs. Comparing the suits across the country with those filed against big tobacco companies several decades ago, those on the council say they hope to ensure Detroit receives adequate compensation for the devastation opioids have wrought on their streets.