In a new lawsuit, the city of Memphis claims drug companies are not being upfront about opioids being addictive, and says that in many cases they being over-prescribed.
The CDC says the opioid epidemic kills more people than car wrecks or suicides.
“I was a football player from high school,” said Jordon Fostich. “Never would have happened to me, I thought.”
Fostich is on his ninth day of treatment with Addiction Campuses. He was addicted to oxycodone for several years after a jaw injury. Fostich is one of the more than two million people the CDC says are addicted to opioids.
Treating the addicted in Memphis is costing the city millions. So now the city of Memphis is suing more than 20 drug companies.
“The main reason that we filed it is that we want to be at the table when this gets resolved and have a voice where any money that’s transferred goes,” said Alan Crone, special council to Mayor Strickland.
The 146-page lawsuit claims that “deceptive marketing” by more 20 companies and failure to “stop suspicious orders of those medications” led to the rising crisis.
“We’ve bought hundreds of thousands (dollars) worth of Narcan, which is the antidote to opioid overdoes,” says Crone.
Local 24 News spoke to Dr. Ted Bender, the CEO at Turning Point, where people seek treatment. He says drugs are being prescribed when sometimes they don’t need to be.
“They’re being overprescribed or overused for disorders that are not designed to be treated long term by opioids,” says Dr. Bender.
Fostich says that’s what happened to him. “They prescribed me a lot of it and i liked it too much. I’ve been battling it ever since.”
According to the CEO at Turning Point, $100 billion over the next five years is needed to really combat opioid addiction.
A spokesperson for some of the drug companies say they already are putting safeguards in place to combat opioid abuse.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals provided this statement to Local 24 News:
Our actions in the marketing and promotion of these important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible – and that will be apparent to the jurors who will hear the evidence at trial. The FDA-approved labels for these prescription pain medications provide clear information about their risks and benefits. The allegations made against our company are baseless and unsubstantiated. In fact, since 2008, our opioid medications have accounted for less than one percent of the U.S. market for this class of medications (including generics).
Opioid abuse and addiction are serious public health issues. We are committed to being part of the ongoing dialogue and to doing our part to find ways to address this crisis.