City of Birmingham files suit against drug distributors

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The city of Birmingham is stepping up its attack on drug overdoses and opioid abuse.

On Monday, Birmingham Mayor William Bell announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against three drug distributors.

"The distributors, under federal law, are required to monitor and regulate the amount of opioids coming into an area and we feel they have failed to live up to that obligation," Bell said.

The companies including in the suit are Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and McKesson Corporation.

Drug overdoses have been costly for Birmingham. Almost 1,000 patients were treated from January 2016 to July 2017 at a cost of $477 per patient for treatment and transport. Also, 900 Narcan injectors have been used at a cost of $33,000.

"Our vice and narcotics unit have conducted over 100 operations just this year alone regarding this crisis and that is just a drop in the bucket. There is still more work to be done," said Chief A.C. Roper with the Birmingham Police Department.

The increasing number of drug overdoses and deaths is a growing concern.

"People are dying from drug overdoses. More people are dying from drug overdoses than car accidents," said Chris Retan with Aletheia House, a drug treatment facility.

Bell said the goal here with the lawsuit is to turn off the supply, but also to see if they can find funds for additional treatment.

"It is about getting funds to create treatment. It is also about finding a way to stop people from getting addicted in the first place," said Mayor Bell.

We have reached out to the three drug companies for comment, but we have not yet heard from them.

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