Skip to main content

Minneapolis plans to sue companies that make and distribute painkillers

Opioid overdoses are rising – and treating them falls on first responders.

Painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are being prescribed more often than they used to, and that's contributed to the rise in the number of overdose deaths, the CDC says. People get addicted to these prescription opioids, then sometimes turn to street drugs like heroin to get their fix.

Treating those overdoses is a responsibility that falls on first responders. In Minneapolis, the fire department has responded to 363 opioid overdoses in the past 18 months, the city says, a huge jump compared to before.

Naloxone – a fast, effective overdose-reversal drug – has been issued 551 times during that span, and 328 lives have been saved.

All of that costs money.

So the Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to sue opioid makers and distributors, hoping to recoup the funds it has spent fighting what it calls the "opioid crisis."

The city council's vote essentially OKs the city attorney to get the lawsuit going.

“The misrepresentations, deceptive and dangerous marketing practices, oversupply and failure to comply with federal reporting requirements of opioid manufacturers and distributors are among the leading causes of our current spiral of opioid-related addiction, overdoses and deaths,” City Attorney Susan Segal said in a news release

This has happened a lot recently

This might sound like a strange step – a city suing companies that legally make and sell a prescription drug.

But it's becoming way more common, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse finding three-quarters of opioid abusers said a prescription drug was their first opioid.

As of this week, more than 100 cities, states and counties have filed lawsuits against drug companies, Governing reported.

“It’s devastated county and municipal budgets," Mark Chalos, a Nashville-based lawyer, told the site. "There’s been a significant cost for law enforcement, first responders, for drug treatment, for lost productivity of government workers and for services like autopsies."

Minneapolis' suit would be among the first in Minnesota, according to Governing's database. The city will ask for money to pay back the costs it has incurred because of opioid abuse, as well as "other relief."

CityPages reported this week two counties in Minnesota – Mower and St. Louis – have also voted to start lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. 

The Atlantic compares the opioid legal actions to a 1998 lawsuit against tobacco companies, filed by 46 states and six other jurisdictions. The case was settled, the tobacco companies agreed to pay the states – forever – to fund public health and anti-smoking efforts.

In September, NPR reported the attorneys general of 41 states banded together to investigate the crisis, with New York's AG noting opioid distributors alone pull in more than $500 billion every year in revenue.

In 2016, 2,450 opioid overdoses were reported in Minnesota, including 376 deaths. 

Next Up

image

What's in the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden?

How the nation's biggest climate law will reduce emissions.

Patrick Henry High School

Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis will get new name

A school board meeting was held this week, discussing what's next going forward.

Mike Max

Sources: Mike Max is out at WCCO Radio

Max got his start at WCCO Radio in 1998.

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

Uber passenger dies a week after fiery crash in St. Paul

Her Uber was struck by a suspected drunk-driver.

target

Target profits plunge as it takes hit from shedding excess goods

The retailer announced earlier this year it would be slashing prices.

police lights

Las Vegas man identified as victim killed near 38th and Chicago

The 25-year-old died at the scene Sunday afternoon.

unnamed-5

Beloved Eagan Dairy Queen says goodbye

A summer staple has shuttered in Eagan.

Screen Shot 2022-08-16 at 3.44.22 PM (2)

Bridge damage closes westbound Hwy. 62 between Richfield, Edina

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said bridge maintenance work is in progress.

Michael Miller

Charges: Drunk driver killed former chair of Hibbing Chamber of Commerce

Michael Miller's blood-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Related

Red Lake Indian Reservation declares health emergency over opioid crisis

There's been a recent rise in overdoses and drug addiction.

pixabay-pain-pills

Bill would make drug companies pay millions for opioid crisis

Manufacturers and wholesalers would be responsible for $20 million annually.

2 arrested and a bunch of drugs seized after overdoses in central MN

Responders saved the lives of both victims using Narcan.

Minnesota's drug problem got even worse in 2016

Drug overdose deaths shot up last year, a rise driven by the use of dangerous opioids.

Minnesota gets $16.6 million in grants to fight the opioid crisis

Last year, nearly 2,500 opioid overdoses were reported in Minnesota.