NYC sues drug companies for $500M over role in opioid crisis

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More than 90 Americans a day die of an opioid overdose, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In a tweet, de Blasio said he would not attend the meeting after the Department of Justice "decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities". Singh wasn't so lucky.

The de Blasio administration introduced HealingNYC, a $38 million local initiative to distribute naloxone, addiction treatment medications and to educate local emergency rooms and clinicians about opioids, in March. He was also in need of a renewal for the lease, which was set to expire in 2017.

The suit, which is seeking $500 million in damages, names a number of opioid manufacturers, including Teva, Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma, as well as major distributors including McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

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Tuesday's filing follows a suit the city leveled against oil companies, similarly accusing them of contributing to climate change, which the mayor announced on January 10. A more recent report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) concluded that the opioid epidemic cost the US economy more than $500 billion in 2015.

Ann Marie Perrotto, a Staten Island woman who lost her 22-year-old son from a prescription opioid overdose in 2011, said it was time pharmaceutical companies were held accountable.

The lawsuit alleges the opioid epidemic was caused by manufacturers' marketing and by distributors sending prescription painkillers into New York City. Chicago was among the first to do so in 2014; the lawsuit is yet to be resolved. In the end four tobacco manufacturers were forced to pay out over $200 billion in settlements, and a similar scenario could play out for the now accused drug companies. The money states received from the legal settlements was used to offset medical costs and fund anti-smoking campaigns. The lawsuits have been consolidated into what is known as "multidistrict litigation", an approach taken when lawsuits of a similar nature are filed around the country.

Drug distributors and manufacturers named in the lawsuits have said they don't believe litigation is the answer but have pledged to help solve the crisis.