MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There were more than 850 opioid-related emergency department visits in Shelby County alone last year.
Now the city of Memphis is joining the county and the state by suing more than a dozen opioid manufacturers and distributors over this growing epidemic.
The lawsuit alleges companies like Purdue Pharma, LP have used misleading marketing techniques which in turn lead to an increase in this epidemic.
Dr. Ted Bender, CEO at Turning Point – a treatment facility for people suffering from substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders – said the city’s lawsuit against big pharma sends a strong message.
“It’s about time we start looking at the people that are responsible for driving this opioid epidemic,” said Bender.
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The lawsuit states the city has spent millions of dollars each year to provide or pay for services and programs for Memphians affected by this growing epidemic.
Bender said most of this money was likely used for Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an overdose.
“They have spent a lot of money putting that in the hands of first responders, ambulance, fire you know hospitals but that’s just one piece of it,” said Bender. “Treatment for this kind of addictive is expensive.”
Alan Crone, special counsel for Mayor Jim Strickland said there have been some isolated successes from these lawsuits. He said many of these lawsuits were just filed over the past year.
“I think the proof in the cases that have been filed so far shows these companies knew these pills were being overprescribed,” said Crone.
If the city can recoup any funding, Crone said a portion would go back into the community to fight the epidemic.
Dr. Bender said the true cost of tackling this epidemic is steep.
“This epidemic is going to take at least $100 billion over the next five years if we really want to make an immediate impact now instead of waiting decades and decades for it to get better,” said Bender.
FOX13 called and emailed Purdue Pharma, LP, one of the main defendants in this suit for a comment, but the company didn’t respond to our numerous interview requests.
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