An Ohio City is Suing the Pharmaceutical Companies Over the Opioid Epidemic

"The heroin epidemic was no accident," says the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, launching suit against 20 corporations.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s solution to the opioid epidemic may be to assign his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to deal with the problem. One Ohio politician has a bolder solution: She wants to sue the pharmaceutical companies, distributors and physicians she claims are responsible for the problem.

“The heroin epidemic was no accident,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in announcing a suit against pharmaceutical companies. “These big drug companies have destroyed too many lives, broken too many families and done so much damage to our communities. People are hooked on drugs and there are enormous challenges for communities like Dayton. Ever since this crisis was created, our community has been forced to focus our time, attention and your tax dollars on addressing the heroin epidemic.”

The suit lists 24 defendants in all, including 20 pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson.

Dayton’s lawsuit is seeking compensation for the cost that the opioid epidemic has caused its community. The city’s official website states that Dayton’s law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel have already responded to more than 1,800 calls related to suspected overdoses since the start of 2017. (Which is a remarkable number in a city with around 140,000 residents.) Emergency personnel in Dayton have used more than 50 percent more Narcan to treat suspected overdoses since the start of the year than they used in all of 2016.

At the current rate, the city expects to more than double its overdose-related expenses this year.

The Trump White House has said that the recently created Office of American Innovation, led by Kushner, will address the opioid epidemic, according to a report by the Washington Post. The office is also tasked with handling a variety of unrelated issues, from veterans affairs to infrastructure projects.


Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and his work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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