With Palm Beach County commissioners poised to consider filing suit against drug makers and distributors, important players have emerged opponents of such a move: drug makers and distributors.
“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders,” John Parker, senior vice president of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post. “Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated.”
The HDA, a national coalition of drug distributors, reached out to The Post after it reported that commissioners are expected next week to choose from three teams of law firms that have offered to represent the county if it files suit against drug makers and manufacturers as a means of recouping some of the money the county has spent combating the opioid crisis.
Governments across the country, including Delray Beach and several others in Florida, have begun to turn to drug makers and distributors, blaming them for not doing enough to limit the availability of drugs being abused in the epidemic.
The HDA said such lawsuits are a bad idea.
“Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation,” Parker wrote.
Commissioners are scheduled to meet on Tuesday.
While they are expected to choose which law firms would assist them if the county does pursue legal action, commissioners have made no final decision to sue. Several have spoken in favor of suing, most notably Mayor Melissa McKinlay, whose former aide lost a daughter in the epidemic.
At McKinlay’s urging, the County Commission directed the county attorney’s office to examine the possibility of filing suit and to get proposals from law firms that would represent the county.