SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield is planning to sue pharmaceutical companies because of the opioid epidemic.
An estimated 2,100 people died from opioid overdoses in Massachusetts in 2016. Overdoses claimed the lives of more than 120 people in Hampden County alone.
Lawmakers are exploring new ways to fight the epidemic. State Senator Eric Lesser told 22News he supports Springfield’s intention to sue pharmaceutical companies.
“We need to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable for very irresponsibly peddling these highly addictive narcotics, and not being completely honest or transparent about how addictive they are,” Lesser told 22News.
Senator Lesser said the majority of the state’s current heroin users started with legal prescription painkillers. In a three-month span in 2017, more than five-percent of Hampden County residents received prescriptions for schedule 2 opioids like Vicodin.
Springfield hopes to recover some of the “crippling cost” opioid addiction has caused the city.
Michael Rivera of Springfield, who lost his brother to an overdose, said the state needs a new way to fight the epidemic.
“There’s no control,” Rivera told 22News. “There should be a better plan out there. I am not saying we are not working hard, but it’s getting out there somehow, and the wrong people are getting it in their hands.”
Springfield has hired a law firm that is currently representing several communities in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and distributors.
Senator Lesser has introduced a bill that would require prescription opioid abuse prevention to be taught in health education.