Schenectady County Files Lawsuit against Manufacturers of Prescription Opiates

Schenectady County today filed a lawsuit against various manufacturers of legal prescription opiates alleging deceptive practices that have helped create the current opiate crisis.  The County Legislature previously approved the filing of the lawsuit.

“Schenectady County has invested significant resources to combat the opioid epidemic that is occurring here in our community as well as across the country,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature.  “Our action today is an attempt by Schenectady County to force these opioid manufacturers to change their behavior and be held accountable for contributing to this epidemic.”

Nearly 19,000 people lost their lives due to opioid overdoses in 2014, a quadrupling of these deaths in just 15 years.  According to the New York State Department of Health, Schenectady County averaged eleven overdose deaths per year from 2009 to 2013, fifty-five deaths over a five year period.  In 2014, there were 529 opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions in Schenectady County, an increase of 20.8 percent over 2010. 

The cost of this crisis to Schenectady County residents is significant.  Criminal acts are often committed to obtain additional opioids with many searching out heroin as a cheaper alternative.  Medicaid costs increase as a result of the over-prescription of opioid medication, with Schenectady County spending more than $30 million each year for the County’s share of Medicaid.  Inpatient hospital admissions and admissions to drug treatment programs are also costs to County taxpayers. 

The lawsuit is an effort by Schenectady County to force these opioid manufacturers to change their behavior and be held accountable for it, and to reimburse Schenectady County for the additional costs imposed upon it for medical care, law enforcement and incarceration as a direct and proximate cause of the actions of the opioid manufacturers. 

There would be no up-front costs for Schenectady County in pursuing this action.  Any and all fees and costs would come solely from any monetary award made from either a settlement or from a positive verdict.



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