Berkeley Joins Suit Vs. Pharma Companies

The results of a 2016 drug bust in Ocean County. (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

BERKELEY – Township officials announced they will be joining the list of municipalities suing pharmaceutical companies for creating the conditions that have led to an opioid epidemic.

The problem, officials have said, is that people get addicted to prescription painkillers. Then, they transition to heroin and fentanyl because they are less expensive and, obviously, don’t need a prescription.

“Opioids are addictive. The drug makers knew it, but continued to push doctors to prescribe them,” Mayor Carmen Amato said in a press release. “This has lead to the heroin epidemic that is plaguing our society today. Enough is enough, it’s time to step in to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable.”

The Township Council voted to retain the Washington, D.C. law firm of Motley Rice LLC. The township will not be paying anything out of pocket for the suit. If Motley Rice wins, their company will be paid a portion of the settlement and the rest will be split between the towns that are part of the suit.

Toms River was the first local municipality to join in the lawsuit. Brick has also joined. Other non-local entities that are a part of this include the city of Chicago; counties of Santa Clara in California, Albany in New York, and Summit in Ohio; and the states of Alaska, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

The pharmaceutical companies have not yet been named publicly. The suit is being waged by Motley Rice LLC, and D’Arcy Johnson Day.

According to their website, Motley Rice has also successfully litigated against tobacco companies on behalf of states, to recoup public health costs related to smoking. Due to this lawsuit, the method that companies can market cigarettes changed.