Pompano Set to Sue Over Opioid Epidemic
By Marie Puleo
Pompano Beach is suing about a dozen major pharmaceutical companies, joining nearly 200 other governments around the country that are waging battle against the opioid industry.
The city is bringing a lawsuit against the companies on the grounds that, through fraudulent marketing tactics, they knowingly minimized the addictive nature of opioid painkillers, which are largely being blamed as the root cause of the nationwide opioid epidemic. These highly addictive prescription opioids include fentanyl and OxyContin.
On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Broward County was expected to see over 1,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2017, almost doubling the previous year’s total of 582 and quadrupling those in 2015. In addition to fatal overdoses, the Broward Sheriff’s Office estimates there are approximately 15 to 20 non-fatal overdoses every day in every hospital emergency room in the county.
The number of opioid overdoses is taking its toll on police, firefighters, hospitals, morgues and local addiction treatment facilities.
“It’s killing people every day, and it’s costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher, who spearheaded the city’s pursuit to take legal action. “Something has to be done. That’s why I’ve been pressing forward.”
While Pompano is seeking damages for the time, money and resources expended to address the epidemic, the overall goal is to stop the opioid industry’s deceptive marketing practices.
In the U.S., over 80 percent of the people who overdose on heroin and fentanyl on the street started out taking prescription opioids.
Hundreds of lawsuits against the opioid industry have been filed by cities, counties and states across the country. Pompano will be represented by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, the same law firm that recently filed opioid lawsuits on behalf of Delray Beach and Broward County. The firm also represents Fort Lauderdale and several cities and counties in other states.
“Our firm is committed to holding the manufacturers and distributors of opioids accountable for the worst drug scourge ever,” said Mark Dearman, a partner of the firm.