The city of Gary has filed a complaint in Lake County seeking to recover damages after using public resources to battle the opioid epidemic. The complaint includes over 25 defendants, and alleges that the makers and distributors intentionally misled Hoosiers on opioid dangers.
The suit claims defendants have downplayed the risks of OxyContin, Fentanyl and Percocet, while aggressively marketing the drugs. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says "I have seen addiction as a deputy prosecutor, defense attorney, drug court judge and Indiana Attorney General. We understand the scourge of addiction created by illegal drugs. To think that legal drugs have been manufactured and distributed in a way that increases and risks the harm to citizens of Gary and other communities is unconscionable. As Mayor, I have a responsibility to protect our resources and there is no doubt in my mind that the citizens in this community are our most treasured commodity. We are excited to have an experienced and aggressive legal team fighting for our citizens.”
Indiana hospitals saw fatal overdoses rise by an average of 3.5 percent each year, from 2011 to 2015. Freeman-Wilson says the opioid problems have caused budget increases for law enforcement, emergency care and treatment programs. More than 17,000 US residents died from prescription opioids in 2015 alone.