Bensalem First Philadelphia Area Town To Sue Drug Maker Purdue Pharma, Others Over Opioid Epidemic
Bensalem Township is the first Philadelphia area town that is planning to sue several drug makers in an attempt to obtain reimbursement for the tens of millions the area has spent on battling the opioid crisis.
Bucks County Township officials state that they are excited to be the first in the region to commit to this action, following in the footsteps of other towns, counties, and states that have been suing pharmaceutical companies and forcing them to pay for their vital role in the drug epidemic.
Mayor Joe DiGirolamo said the following in a news conference last week in which the civil suit was announced:
“My frustration time is past what we can do.”
“Do you know what it’s like when he [the police chief] calls me at ten at night and says, ‘Mayor, we had two overdoses today, one of them fatal?’ ”
He also added that the municipality had incurred “incredible” cost battling the crisis.
According to officials, in the past ten years, non-fatal overdoses in the region have increased by 556%. They numbered in the hundreds last year, and dozens more did not survive. Arrests related to drugs also increased by 156%.
The lawsuit, similar to others brought by the city of Chicago, Ohio, counties in California and multiple municipalities, accuses four pharmacy companies and associated entities of wrongdoing. The best known is drug maker Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, which has already been named in several other lawsuits.
Three other drug makers are located in or near the Philly region and include Janssen Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey, Teva Pharmaceuticals in North Wales, and Endo Pharmaceuticals of Malvern. The FDA asked Endo in June to remove Opana ER from the drug market due to its potential for abuse.
A spokesman for Purdue Pharma stated the following in an email:
“While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share Bensalem Township officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis, and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”
A spokesperson from Teva wrote the company was ““committed to the appropriate promotion and use of opioids” and runs educational programs for “prescribers, pharmacists, and patients on the responsible and safe use of these products.”
Janssen said that the allegations “are both legally and factually unfounded.”
Spokeswomen for the drug maker Endo penned in an email that the company’s “top priorities include patient safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe and effective therapeutic options” and that it is “Endo’s policy not to comment on current litigation.”
Bensalem, which is home to 62,000 residents shares a border with Philadelphia and sits next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I-95, and Route 1.
Officials plan to file the Bensalem lawsuit in state court within the next few weeks.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology