​​​​​​​Local 24 News Political Analyst & Commentator Otis Sanford On Memphis’ Opioid Lawsuit

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Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on Memphis’ lawsuit over opioids.

For several years now, we have been hearing about a national scourge known as the opioid epidemic. It has been a particular problem in Tennessee, including here in Memphis and Shelby County. Hundreds of lives have been lost as a result of people becoming addicted to dangerous opioid medications.

As the deaths continued to pile up, state and local governments started efforts to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable. And now the city of Memphis has joined in.

Lawyers representing city government filed a federal lawsuit last week. It accuses 21 pharmaceutical companies and distributors of basically peddling highly addictive drugs to doctors and their patients and misleading them about the risks involved.

The most recent report from the Shelby County Health Department shows more than 850 opioid-related emergency room visits last year. In 2017, 159 overdose deaths were reported countywide. And that number has been steadily rising over the last eight years.

The city’s lawsuit, and a similar one filed by county government, seek to recover millions of dollars in costs incurred from treating overdose cases.

As someone who spent several years covering federal court as a reporter, I can tell you that complicated civil cases such as these could take years to resolve unless there is a settlement. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Which means the opioid crisis will be with us for some time to come. And that’s my point of view.

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