City leaders sue pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies for local opioid epidemic

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The city of Lackawanna is now suing more than eighty pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies for the opioid epidemic.

In a more than 600 page civil complaint, the city of Lackawanna hopes to hold drug makers and those who distribute responsible for the opioid epidemic in Western New York. Some of the defendants include Rite-Aid, Walgreen, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy.

Mayor Geoff Szymanski says these companies failed to report suspicious sales of opioid drugs.

“It is the manufacturers, it’s the distributors, it’s the checks and balances that haven’t been checked and balanced, and unfortunately people’s lives are the ones being ruined because of it,” said Geoff Szymanski.

City officials in Lackawanna are accusing these companies and distributors of targeting the elderly and veterans, making deceptive statements about their drugs, and publishing misleading information given to doctors.

According to the Erie County Department of Health, Lackawanna which is considered a suburb, ranks high in the number of opioid related deaths — compared to rural areas in the last two years.

“We used to have the numbers for how many overdoses we used to have but that was because the county only issued our first responders, our fire department the Narcan, but now that other people have the ability to use it, we don’t even have those numbers anymore,” said Szymanski.

Mayor Szymanski says opioid addiction has taken a toll on the city for the last 20 years, from health care costs to emergency calls.

“When our fire department is no longer going on routine firefighting calls, now a lot of calls are going as overdoses,” said Szymanski.

That’s why he says they’re asking for reimbursement for all of the resources from police and fire triggered by overdoses.

“It’s been far too long and too many lives have been ruined so it’s time for action,” said Szymanski.

Szymanski wouldn’t say how much the city is asking for from the courts, but he says if the city ever sees that money, he believes it will take some years.

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