The city of Brookhaven has “no plans” to join Sandy Springs and other cities around the county in suing the prescription drug industry over the opioids crisis, according to spokesperson Burke Brennan.
The Sandy Springs City Council gave consensus approval March 6 to join other governments — including DeKalb and Fulton counties – in filing opioid lawsuits that are being heard by a single federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio. The move came the day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will support such local lawsuits.
The lawsuit, Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee said, would present the city as an “injured party” due to its costs in caring for people addicted to and overdosing on opioids. He said lawyers have created a formula to estimate the city’s cost in such areas as police and Fire Rescue Department resources.
Lee said at the March 6 council meeting that he had spoken with attorneys representing other local cities who might also file suits, including Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody.
“We are aware of its existence,” said Brennan about the lawsuits and the strategy. “However, Brookhaven does not provide emergency medical services in response to the crisis. There are no plans at this time to participate in this lawsuit.”
Brookhaven does not have a city fire department or ambulance service, with DeKalb County providing both services. However, it does have a police department, whose officers have carried the opioid overdose antidote naloxone since 2015.
Atlanta and Dunwoody did not immediately respond to comment requests.
Opioids are a class of addictive, often easily lethal drugs that include opium, morphine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl, among others. Together, they are estimated to kill over 50,000 Americans a year, and addicting many others, in a crisis that is trending upward. Street-drug versions now kill the most people through overdoses, but the gist of the lawsuits is that major drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies sparked the crisis with deceptive marketing and overuse of prescription painkillers.
The Reporter recently launched an exclusive four-part series about the local opioid epidemic. “Coping with a Crisis: Opioid Addiction in the Suburbs” looks at how local families, nurses, prosecutors, recovering addicts and others are responding. For the first installment, about local families using obituaries as protests against the stigma of opioid overdose death, click here. For an Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital emergency department doctor’s overview of the opioid crisis and how it affects his work every day, click here.