I hope that your New Year is off to a great start. I’m looking forward to working with all of you to make 2018 a successful year in Fort Wayne.
One of the areas we’ll be focused on in 2018 is tackling the opioid challenge we have in our community. The City of Fort Wayne has filed a public nuisance lawsuit against opioid distributors in an effort to hold accountable the companies responsible for bringing opiates into the community and making the opioid epidemic possible.
I was joined at the recent lawsuit announcement by Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed, Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Lahey, and several partner agencies working to address the opioid crisis.
The City has hired Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP based in Indianapolis as lead counsel. The law firm has experience and expertise in high profile cases both for and against large corporations.
The lawsuit is against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors – Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation. The three companies, with combined annual revenues of $400 billion and profits in the billions of dollars, together control more than 80 percent of the market for prescription opioids.
Highlights of opioid statistics from the Fort Wayne Police Department for January 1-December 1, 2017:
*94 overdose deaths with 50 pending
*1,130 overdose runs (98 in November alone)
*512 patients received Narcan/Naloxone (FWPD, FWFD, TRAA)
*Low-end estimate of approximately $90,000 in man-hours alone (no equipment, fuel, etc.) in responding to overdose calls
In addition to taking legal action, the City, Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and partner agencies will continue efforts to fight the opioid epidemic through proactive rehabilitation and prevention programs.
Funds recovered through a successful lawsuit would be used to assist the community in maximizing resources in overcoming the opioid epidemic through education, treatment and law enforcement initiatives.
Public health and public safety are critical components to ensuring Fort Wayne is a viable and sustainable community. It’s our duty to serve and protect the public. Our recent actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to doing all we can to reduce the negative impact that drugs are having on individuals, families, healthcare, law enforcement and the judicial system.
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