ARIZONA NEWS

Prescott sues manufacturers, distributors over opioid crisis 

Apr 25, 2019, 4:21 AM
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)...
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

PHOENIX — A northern Arizona city has filed a lawsuit this week against nearly two dozen pharmaceutical companies, alleging they caused the town harm from the sale and distribution of highly addictive drugs, including opioids.

Prescott, a town about 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff, filed the lawsuit against 18 defendants — 15 manufacturers, one distributor and two doctors — “for the societal and financial harm it has suffered at the hands of those directly responsible for the opioid crisis.”

The city is seeking “compensatory damages and injunctive relief” as a result of the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Yavapai County Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleged that manufacturers knew the harm of their product and continued to push it on patients anyway.

“Over the course of a number of years, the city has seen a significant problem from opioid abuse, from a law enforcement standpoint, a public health standpoint, as well as our infamous recovery home issue we had for a number of years,” City Attorney Jon Paladini told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“All of those things have created an impact, on not just the quality of life here, but actually an economic impact on the city.”

Paladini said Yavapai County, which encompasses Prescott, has a disproportionate number of opioid distribution through legal prescriptions.

“There are 136 prescriptions for every 100 people,” Paladini said. “If everyone in the county had a prescription, some people would have more than one.”

Prescott, a town with a population of 40,000 people, had approximately 200 recovery homes, each with at least six people, within the city limits during its peak in 2013.

Paladini said treating these people caused a huge drain on public safety and public health resources.

“That’s a pretty big population for a smaller community to absorb,” Paladini said, adding that the recovery homes took up a “significant part” of the city landscape from about 2006 to 2014.

“It is a drain. Addiction is a drain on a community, both quality of life as well as economic drain,” he said.

While the lawsuit does not seek a specific amount of money, Paladini said any money the city council receives would likely be directed to public safety or health.

“It wouldn’t simply go into a general fund,” he said. “It would most likely tie to where addiction costs the city.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report. 

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Prescott sues manufacturers, distributors over opioid crisis