Following the lead of cities and counties across the United States, the City of Rockville has joined a statewide class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
The City is seeking retribution for what Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton called a public health emergency.
“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis,” said Newton in a statement. “It’s time to hold the doctors, manufacturers and distributors accountable and change the way the industry does business. Pain management is an important part of healing, but overprescribing has put an enormous burden on families and ruined countless lives.”
The City’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Rockville, and the City will now join the cities of Bowie, Caroline, Frederick, Garrett and Harford Counties and the mayor and council of Westminster in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that opioid manufacturers and distributors have used illegal marketing techniques to make their drugs seem safer than they really are. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that opioid manufactures and distributors have failed to report suspicious purchases.
Rockville has retained the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd – the same firm that Montgomery County retained for its class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
In February, the County filed a lawsuit against 14 opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging that the opioid epidemic has cost millions of dollars in financial strain on County services.
In the last four years, Montgomery County has seen a 145-percent increase in the number of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose, according to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger.
“The opioid crisis is wreaking severe damage on individuals and communities throughout our great nation – and Montgomery County is not immune,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Just ask the first responders in our Fire & Rescue Service and our Police. Ask our frontline personnel in Health & Human Services. We are talking about addiction, death, broken lives and broken families.”
Rockville and Montgomery County have joined jurisdictions across the country that have filed similar lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors, including counties and cities in Ohio, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona and Illinois.
In addition to local action, the state has attempted to tackle the crisis as well.
Last May, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared a “state of emergency” in response to the opioid epidemic across the state. In his speech, Hogan announced the state would spend an additional $50 million over the next five years to combat the crisis through prevention and treatment.