OPIOIDS COST CONNECTICUT
The escalating cost of responding to the opioid crisis is placing an unsustainable financial burden on communities around the country. Municipalities are responding by seeking damages from the corporations that manufacture and distribute the drugs that caused, and continue to fuel, this crisis. Every state and federal court in the US that is currently adjudicating opioid cases has allowed municipalities’ claims to go forward – except for Connecticut courts. It is fundamentally unfair that CT be the only state where taxpayers are forced to bear the costs of the opioid epidemic – with no ability to seek recourse from the wrongdoers.
WE ARE THE CONNECTICUT OPIOID STRATEGY TASK FORCE
We are a bipartisan coalition advocating for the Opioid Accountability Act – legislation that will clarify the Connecticut municipalities’ right to pursue litigation against Big Pharma.
CONNECTICUT COMMUNITIES ARE BEING CRUSHED BY THE DIRECT COST OF THE OPIOID CRISIS. WHILE BIG PHARMA MAKES BILLIONS IN PROFIT.
This man-made crisis is stressing municipal budgets to the breaking point, forcing cities to scramble to meet the increased demand for emergency response services, law enforcement and treatment programs and siphoning off resources earmarked for other government programs and services.
Each time a person overdoses on opioids in Connecticut, a municipality must respond at a cost of more than $1,500 per response... and that doesn’t begin to cover the costs of hospitalization and medical care – often for patients with no health insurance – or the cost of treating the PTSD suffered by first responders who are subjected to the unpredictability, stress and trauma of repeated overdose emergencies.
Municipalities bear the direct cost of the crisis through these increased investments in health services for the prevention and treatment of addiction and overdoses and the diversion of resources intended for children, seniors, the homeless and other residents in need. Critical financial and personnel resources are being diverted from programs designed to meet the needs of the rest of our citizens – thus the entire community suffers.
THE OPIOID ACCOUNTABILITY ACT WILL GIVE CONNECTICUT MUNICIPALITIES THE SAME OPPORTUNITY AS OTHER COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
With 50,000 people dying every year and 1,000 overdoses a day, there is no denying that the opioid crisis is a national public health emergency. Connecticut municipalities are simply asking, as are the hundreds of other municipalities across the country that have filed suit, that the drug companies and pharmaceutical executives who made billions in profits, while leaving devastated communities in their wake, be held accountable.
Two decades ago we learned a lesson from the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement - that, even if a state recovers related costs, there is no guarantee that the money will make its way back to the local or individual level. But there was an exception. The four municipalities that brought tobacco suits were paid - and took those dollars back to their communities.
The proposed legislature does not change Connecticut law or overturn precedent – it merely clarifies that the injuries borne by municipalities fighting the opioid crisis are cognizable and, if proven, recoverable in court.
THIS IS A BIPARTISAN ISSUES
Holding Pharmaceutical corporations responsible for the opioid crisis is an issue that cuts across demographic, geographic and political lines. Approximately 40 municipalities are currently seeking damages with more to come.
The Connecticut Opioid Strategy Task Force (COST) is a bipartisan coalition of concerned municipal stakeholders spearheaded by Mayor Michael Passero of New London, Mayor William W. Dickinson, Jr. of Wallingford, Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain and former state senator and current Mayor of New Haven, Toni Harp.
Other impacted and concerned groups including fire and police chiefs, public health officials, prevention and treatment providers and child welfare advocates are also joining the coalition. They face this epidemic every single day and we need their voice to help bring this legislation to life!
“Every state and federal court in the US that is currently adjudicating opioid cases is allowing municipalities’ claims to go forward – except in CT. It is fundamentally unfair that CT is the only state where taxpayers are forced to bear the costs of the opioid epidemic with no ability to seek recourse from the wrongdoers. And even if the state eventually reaches a settlement in its suit, there is no guarantee that the monies will find their way back to our communities. The only way to guarantee restitution on a local level is for our municipalities to sue on our own behalf.”
— Mayor Toni Harp,