As announced Wednesday by the Palm Beach Post, Delray Beach will be the latest city to join the legal fight against Big Pharma.
According to the publication, Delray Beach has followed in the footsteps of cities such as Chicago and Dayton, Ohio—both of which moved to sue major pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.
The Ohio Attorney General filed a suit on behalf of the entire state at the end of May.
On Tuesday, the Delray Beach Commission met to discuss the next steps in combatting the opioid crisis—effectively becoming the first city in the state of Florida to take such action against pharmaceutical companies.
The City shares similar views to those of Ohio’s leaders. With the opioid crisis escalating exponentially in recent years, community leaders and residents alike are searching for some level of accountability, looking to pharmaceutical companies and questioning their part in an ongoing epidemic.
How Did We Get Here?
Pharmaceutical companies have underplayed the risks of long-term and short-term opioid use for many years. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 seemed to provide fuel for these claims.
“Addiction rare in patients treated with narcotics,” stated the letter, which was written by a medical professional, though did not contain any evidence beyond a singular study. That letter has since been referenced over 600 times, continuing to back pharmaceuticals companies’ claims of low addiction risk.
Doctors who read this letter were assured that prescribing powerful opioids was safe—and an effective method to treat different forms of pain. Today, the prescription of opioids is commonplace—and remains unquestioned by millions who are uninformed of potential dangers.
While not all patients will become addicted to opioids, the risk of addiction should be stressed upfront; with 72-82 prescriptions written per 100 Florida residents, it is clear that the state must address prescribing practices in addition to the role of Big Pharma.
Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein stated that, “With virtually no help from our federal government and little from our state … cities like ours are now frantically searching for answers for our own population. We’re right for turning our eyes to those who are known conspirators in this ongoing atrocity.”
The gravity of the opioid epidemic has affected millions worldwide, and as individual communities move forward to seek answers—and responsibility—it is crucial that ethical treatment remain available, and that advocates for recovery continue to speak out.
Bringing awareness to the epidemic is only the first step; together we must ensure the availability of prevention programs for area youth, provide safe treatment for those who are suffering, and create a network of support for those who are on the path to sobriety.
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