Albany County Legislature unanimously passes opioid lawsuit resolution

July 10, 2017 11:42 PM

ALBANY - The Albany County Legislature voted unanimously Monday night to seek legal damages from drug companies over the opioid crisis.

“A lot of it points back to the pharmaceutical companies that have been supplying these opiates in excess over the years,” said Albany County Legislature Chairman, Sean Ward.

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“The pharmaceutical industry has over the years encouraged the over-prescription of opioids which have contributed to the epidemic, said Paul Burgdof, Albany County Legislator for the 23rd District.

Specifically, the resolution requests that the county attorney file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies to recoup costs spent treating the epidemic.

“This is really an attempt to see if there can be a funding stream located to fight opioid abuse.”

Drug related deaths in New York State have increased 40 percent from 2009 to 2014.

County legislators said overdose deaths, emergency room visits and hospitalizations have also increased over that time along with county expenses related to them.

“Costs the county in Medicaid costs and public health money and our taxpayers have to pay,” Ward said.

In fact, taxpayers pay millions a year responding to and treating opioid addiction.

“We're not going to back down from this fight, Ward said. “We need to take action and we need to take leadership.”

However, the legislature said the pharmaceutical companies are not the sole reason behind the opioid addiction epidemic and legislators insist that it will take more than suing the industry to adequately address it.

“The real test will be to see how we can increase education, awareness and most importantly treatment,” Burgdof said.

Albany County joins more than a half dozen other counties to pass similar resolutions and measures recently.

The health department says 1 in 5 teens has used prescription pain relievers for non-medical issues. 


Nia Hamm

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