Alabama cities hopping in on national opioid lawsuits

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Gracie Fusco

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 million people have died from a drug overdose since 1999. Nearly 75% of those deaths involved an opioid. Many opioids are legally prescribed, but opioids abuse has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

More than 82% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.


Rise In Drug Overdoses

Three of the largest U.S. pharmacy chains have agreed in principle to pay a total of about $10 billion to settle lawsuits over the heavy societal toll from prescription opioids.

Over the last year and a half, more than 2,000 lawsuits were filed, alleging doctors overperscribed and pharmacists over-filled painkillers and opioids.

In addition, several drug makers have reached out of court settlements regarding prescription opioids, and thousands of communities are waiting to receive their portion of funds.

“With a town, a city our size, we aren’t talking about thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Centreville Attorney Mitch Kemmer. “It is something that will help us address the problem here, because there is a problem in our county.”

Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley made it clear that one of his jobs is to get the word out about this.

The city of Centreville will use any money from these settlements in the fight against opioid addiction, Oakley said.

Whether that means putting the funds toward education or law enforcement, city officials said their goal is using the money constructively.

“I think education is something that has to be addressed,” Oakley said. “It’s a problem we’ve got to deal with and it starts at home. It starts at school. People have to be educated as to what’s going to happen as long as there is a drug problem.”

Centreville is just one of the communities using these funds to hopefully make a difference and put an end to this epidemic. The city of Tuscaloosa is also considering joining the lawsuit. Officials there took up the issue at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Categories: Alabama News, Local News