AUGUSTA, GA. – January 11, 2017 – Mayor Hardie Davis announced today that Augusta, Georgia, is taking a much-needed step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opiates into its community, filing a public nuisance lawsuit against the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.
Augusta has filed suit against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies and against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors. Augusta is joining a growing list of city and county governments across the country that are taking action against the drug manufacturers and distributors for fueling the opioid crisis in their communities.
Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, in 1970 Congress designed a system to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country. It let only a select few wholesalers gain the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to do a very important job – halt suspicious orders and control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate uses. But in recent years they failed to do that, and today the people of Augusta are paying the price.
Augusta is working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors accountable for failing to do what they were charged with doing under the federal Controlled Substances Act – monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.
“We are taking this action today because the costs of this opioid crisis have overwhelmed our ability to provide for the health, welfare and safety of our residents,” Mayor Davis said. “Homes have been broken and families torn apart by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life. But it is the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors who failed in their legal obligation to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious orders, even as the number of pills flowing into our county rose and rose.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, in 2016, 982 people lost their lives due to opioid drug overdoses in the state. Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 opioid prescriptions were dispensed for every 10 residents of Augusta-Richmond County in 2016. Augusta has hired expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include: Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; and McHugh Fuller Law Group.