DELRAY BEACH — The opioid epidemic plaguing Palm Beach County has its greatest concentration of problems in the city of Delray Beach, but Mayor Cary Glickstein has a novel way to begin addressing them.
That novel way is the American way: Take it to court.
Glickstein proposed suing the big pharmaceutical companies that produce painkillers like Oxycontin—often seen as a gateway to heroin—for deceptive marketing.
It may seem frivolous, but states like Mississippi and Ohio have already done the same thing.
“It’s part of turning the screws in doing what we can to not see the next generation of addicts,” Glickstein explained at a city meeting.
The mayor hopes to recoup some of the costs that the city incurs from overdoses, each of which can be as much $2,000.
Considering that other jurisdictions have found success with the move—and that, as Glickstein pointed out to city commissioners, the lawsuit would carry no costs to the city unless they won—it certainly seems to fall under the “worth a try” category.
According to David Ray, CEO of Delray Beach’s Immersion Recovery Center, a common manifestation of the problem is people who’ve become addicted to painkillers making the move to heroin when their Oxycontin or other pills get too expensive.
“You’re really hooked at that point,” he said.
Ray, an enthusiastic opponent of addiction, hopes that litigation will start a trend against drugs the same way that it helped change attitudes toward cigarette smoking.
“Through legislation and litigation, we were able to curb that and socially the norm the idea that smoking is not cool,” Ray continued. “I think we can begin to try to do the same thing with opioids.”
According to Glickstein, the time to strike is now, with momentum working against big pharma from similar lawsuits. It’s clear that the mayor is onboard, though city commissioners still need to speak with attorneys to assess the viability of the plan.
One thing does bode well for Glickstein’s proposal: If there’s any bigger fish than the drug industry in the U.S., it’s most assuredly the legal industry!