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New York City Files $500 Million Lawsuit Against Opioid Drug Companies

New York City has filed a $500 million lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors in an effort to hold them accountable for their alleged part in New York’s opioid epidemic.

About the New York Opioid Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, the current opioid epidemic was caused, at least in part, by manufacturers’ marketing of the drug.

Additionally, New York City alleges that crises has placed a burden on the city as it must cover increased substance use treatment services, ambulatory services, emergency department services, inpatient hospital services, medical examiner costs, criminal justice costs, and law enforcement costs.

NBC 4 New York reports that more than 1,000 people died of opioid overdose in New York City in 2016, marking the highest number of opioid-related deaths on record for the city.

New York City is not the first to file such a lawsuit. More than 200 lawsuits have been filed against drug companies by local communities across the nation, including communities and cities in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

The vast majority of the lawsuits have already been consolidated into multidistrict litigation. It is unclear if New York City’s lawsuit would join the MDL.

Dangers of Opioid Painkiller Abuse

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records about 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths every year – this is more deaths than those attributed to car accidents or gunshot wounds
  • Perhaps more alarming is that the rate of painkiller abuse has increased by 300 percent between 1999 and 2010. The rate of abuse is especially high among women, increasing 400 percent during the same time span.
  • When used during pregnancy, opioid painkillers can lead to birth defects including:
    • Spina Bifida
    • Hypocephaly
    • Conoventicular septal defect
    • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
    • Atrial septal defect
    • Tetralogy of fallot
  • Nearly 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect according to the CDC.  Birth defects are the leading cause of death in infants, and account for more than 20 percent of all 5,600 infant deaths each year.


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