Westchester County Legislators

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Westchester Legislators Hold Big Pharma Accountable

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Pass Shimsky’s Bill Beginning Legal Proceedings Alleging Big Pharma’s Role in the Opioid Crisis

(WHITE PLAINS, NY) The Westchester County Board of Legislators passed legislation, introduced by Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), which would authorize Westchester to join counties all over the country in legal proceedings holding pharmaceutical companies allegedly responsible for the opioid crisis accountable.

The proceedings, which are moving forward in eight New York counties - Dutchess, Rockland, Ulster, Nassau, Suffolk, Broome, Erie, and Orange – allege that unethical marketing practices by large pharmaceutical companies are linked to the over prescribing of and addiction to prescription painkillers, as well as the heroin addiction that ensues when patients can no longer obtain or afford the pills. If successful, these proceedings could potentially put Westchester in line to receive much needed funding.

“Westchester County alone lost 334 victims to opioid overdoses from 2010-2015,” said Shimsky. “Nearly every person I encounter when discussing the epidemic in our backyard shares a story of a loved one they have lost, or that is fighting opioid addiction. All too often, addiction begins with the prescription of painkillers for ailments which in the past might have been prescribed an over the counter medication. To attack this extremely destructive epidemic, we need to use every tool in our proverbial toolbox, and this is just one step. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to hold those responsible accountable.”

“Prescription drugs have caused devastating impacts on the health and safety of residents of Westchester, said Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), Chair of the Committee on Litigation. “This is a necessary step toward asserting our rights in the court of law in order to compensate the County for financial and other injuries as the result of the opioid epidemic. It is time that the pharmaceutical companies and other involved actors be held responsible for their actions which caused deleterious consequences for our communities."

“Opioid abuse brings massive financial costs to Westchester County. While the money we spend dealing with opioid abuse is nothing in comparison to the human cost, those funds are partially recoverable if Westchester joins the many other counties across New York State in this lawsuit. Being good stewards of taxpayer dollars doesn’t just mean finding ways to save, it also means availing ourselves to additional revenue opportunities to help defray expenses. The proceeds from this lawsuit will go a long way in our fight against the opioid addiction epidemic,” said Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R-Eastchester)

“Big pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars by aggressively marketing opiate based drugs beyond their legitimate applications of relieving severe pain. In so doing they have created a public health crisis which has taken the lives of hundreds of Westchester County residents. Just as Westchester County received funds from a lawsuit against big tobacco, the pharmaceutical industry has an obligation to help address the opioid addiction epidemic they have helped to create and profit from," said Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers).


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