FLINT (WJRT) - (08/22/19) - Attorneys representing the City of Flint in an ongoing lawsuit against dozens of pharmaceutical companies updated the public during a town hall meeting about the lawsuit's progress Thursday at Berston Field House.
The lawsuit claims drug manufacturers and distributors bare responsibility for the spread of the opioid epidemic.
Attorney CK Hoffler says more than 20 companies are named in the more than 100-page complaint filed in the Eastern District of Michigan.
Along with Hoffler, the Beasley Allen Law Firm is representing the city and 22 other municipalities.
Attorneys with the CK Hoffler Firm said more municipalities are joining the lawsuit all the time. They also assured those in attendance that the City of Flint will not have to pay for services unless the lawsuit is won.
"Part of the healing process from the aftermath of overuse and over-prescribing of medication is accountability, so somebody has to be held accountable," said Serena Gunn.
Serena Gunn is board chairperson of nonprofit Serenity House of Flint. The organization focuses on holistic healing and prevention. Serenity House of Flint and other service providers were present at the meeting to make the public aware of what it is they offer.
"What they can expect moving forward," Mayor Karen Weaver said ahead of the meeting. "What resources are available, and really see what we can get for City of Flint as well."
Ahead of the meeting, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver talked about the importance of having those resources readily available to the community but also to those who receive the first call.
"How it's impacted our fire and police and the drain on the finances there as a result of the opioid epidemic," Weaver said.
The statistics are staggering, showing an opioid prescribing rate of 102 for every 100 people in 2017 in Genesee County, according to the CDC.
The prescribing rates for other counties in that same year are: 84.8 in Shiawassee, 78.1 in Saginaw, 64 in Oakland, 73.6 in Midland, 68.0 in Lapeer, 110 in Clare, 86.6 in Bay, 64.2 in Tuscola, 39.8 in Sanilac and 127.3 in Roscommon.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 11.4 million prescriptions for painkillers were written in 2015. That's about 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people - statewide.
Gunn was there to also promote the 5th Annual Recovery Walk & Rally happening September 28 in downtown Flint. She says the money potentially won from a lawsuit could do some good in the recovery community.
"The money can be funneled back into the city, back into the state to help with substance abuse treatment, prevention and education which we didn't have before," Gunn said. "Somebody has to pay for it, and it shouldn't just be the taxpayers, and it shouldn't come from us. I mean, yes we're responsible for treating our own disease, but they should pay."
Defendants named in the complaint include Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, LTD.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Noramco, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLS; Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Actavis, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis, LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc.; Mallinckrodt plc; Mallinckrodt LLC; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health, Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation.
Click here for a list of opioid addiction resources.