Lexington files lawsuit against wholesale drug distributors

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Mayor Jim Gray announced on Thursday that Lexington has filed a lawsuit to hold wholesale drug distributors and manufacturers accountable for dumping opioids into the city.

“Opioid abuse has taken a serious toll on our City and our citizens through loss of life, financial hardship and increased criminal activity,” Gray said. “Joined by partners across our community, we are fighting back. It’s only right that the drug distributors and manufacturers pay for the serious problems they have caused. This has been declared a national emergency.”

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The city says the costs include:

• About $1 million each year on treatment programs at social service agencies like Chrysalis House, which serves addicted women; at the jail; and at shelters for people who are homeless. Even so, many of the treatment and recovery programs throughout the city maintain waiting lists for admission due to the volume of people seeking services.

• The growing cost of Narcan. Lexington administered more than twice as much Narcan in 2016, as it did in 2013. The cost of the drug is increasing, as is the number of times the City uses it.

• About $150,000 a year for the Needle Exchange Program, which has distributed more than 332,000 clean needles, and received more than 281,000 used needles, since it began in September, 2015.

“We have engaged many partners who have used a number of innovative approaches,” Gray said. “Even so, overdose deaths doubled in Lexington between 2013 and 2016. Fayette County ranks second in the state for heroin-related deaths; and second in the state for fentanyl-related deaths. This lawsuit is a logical next step for our community.”

They say in addition to recovering its costs, the City hopes to establish a trust fund for prevention and treatment programs.