EBR files suit against major opioid manufacturers - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

EBR files suit against major opioid manufacturers

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark, and BRPD Chief Murphy Paul spoke from the Metro Council Chambers about the city-parish joining the fight against opioid distributors and manufacturers. (Source: WAFB) Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark, and BRPD Chief Murphy Paul spoke from the Metro Council Chambers about the city-parish joining the fight against opioid distributors and manufacturers. (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the parish is taking a strong stance against the opioid crisis and are suing the manufacturers and distributors.

Broome announced at a press conference on Monday that East Baton Rouge Parish has filed a lawsuit against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids, calling opioid addiction an epidemic.

Broome says in her conversation with other mayors across the nation, one of the biggest issues that they all face, including East Baton Rouge Parish, is the opioid crisis.

Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.2 opioid prescriptions were dispensed for every 10 residents in EBR Parish in 2016, amounting to nearly one opioid prescription for every man, woman, and child. 

While this number is way too high and well above the national average, it is down than prior years, Mayor Broome says.

Broome said in the press conference East Baton Rouge Parish has filed suit against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies and against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors.

Broome says the manufacturing companies pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction, while the distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids. 

“As Mayor-President, I am determined to do everything in my power to stop this epidemic from further destroying the lives of the people of Baton Rouge,” Broome said. “But until we address the source of this epidemic and force drug makers and distributors to follow the law, we will continue to face an uphill battle.”

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William "Beau" Clark spoke on the pharmaceutical companies and diagnosing opioid prescriptions.

Clark says although pharmaceutical companies initially said opioids weren't addictive in treating pain, that's not the case.

"In the end, what they did was, they lied," Clark said at the press conference.

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Clark also spoke on using opioids for treatment. He says the risks outweigh the benefits when using opioid prescriptions for pain treatment.

"I firmly believe that the use of opioids for the treatment of any pain should be done in a very, very rare circumstance," Clark said. He said chronic scenarios such as cancer would be an example of the use of opioids.

Newly sworn-in Police Chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department Paul Murphy said every city in American understands the crisis the parish is going through right now. He spoke of a tragic story that occurred just last week after a mother overdosed on opioids who had a child in the car with her.

"The state has to care for that child," Murphy says. "It is time that we start holding those accountable who played a significant role in this current issue."

"This has to stop," Murphy said.

Chad Guillot with Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services said this crisis affects those of every walk of life throughout the parish and they are training other first responders to treat overdoses.

"We're doing education with the fire departments in the parish to use Narcan, which is a drug that can countereffect the opioids," Gile said.

East Baton Rouge Parish has hired expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; and McHugh Fuller Law Group.

Attorney Burton LeBlanc with Baron & Budd said pharmaceutical distributors clearly violated their federal duty when it comes to the management of opioid prescriptions

"When there's an opioid prescription for every man, woman, and child in the parish for the past nine years," said. "The distributors clearly violated their federal duty, continued.

"The system is broken, if the system wasn't broken we wouldn't be here today," Burton said.

EBR joins a growing list of city and county governments across the country taking action against the drug manufacturers and distributors for fueling the opioid crisis in their communities.

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