Westchester County Legislators

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Westchester Democrats to Hold Big Pharma Accountable

Introduce Act to Authorize County Attorney to Enter Legal Proceedings on Behalf of Taxpayers

(WHITE PLAINS, NY) County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) will introduce legislation directing the Westchester County Attorney to join numerous surrounding counties and file suit against large pharmaceutical companies who have engaged in deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers.

Unethical marketing practices can be traced to the over prescribing of and reliance on prescription painkillers – which is often the place where opioid victims get their first exposure. Westchester would join Dutchess, Rockland, Ulster, Nassau, Suffolk, Broome, Erie, Sullivan, and Orange as counties alleging Big Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic.

“It is time for these multi-billion dollar corporations to take some responsibility for the havoc their products are wreaking on our communities,” said Shimsky. “Westchester County has spent resources combatting the opioid epidemic, an epidemic that took 334 residents from 2010-2015. We are seeking to get those precious tax dollars back.”

According to national surveys, the number of opioids prescribed in the United States has nearly quadrupled since 2010. In 2012 alone, Big Pharma generated nearly $10 Billion in revenue from opioid sales.

“Studies show that use of opioid painkillers is not effective when used to treat chronic pain, yet these doctors were instructed to prescribe them anyway. From teenagers to grandparents, doctors have been prescribing drugs that were causing more harm than good,” said Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “This suit is one step toward holding accountable those who had a hand in starting the opioid crisis we all face together.”

The suit will seek both punitive and compensatory damages for the costs already expended by Westchester County.

“These drug manufactures created the impression that these drugs were safe for everyone for any purpose,” said Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), who chairs the Board’s Committee on Litigation. “This practice was lethally dishonest and had a tragic effect on so many in our community.”

“This industry has made exorbitant profits off of the lives of Westchester residents and we will not sit by idly as it happens,” concluded Shimsky.

Click here for Act Authorizing the Lawsuit

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