The Bangor City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to file a lawsuit against manufacturers of prescription opioids.
In taking that stand, the council passed a resolution accusing pharmaceutical companies of “fraudulent” marketing and reckless distribution of prescription painkillers. More than 70 other localities — including Portland, Lewiston and Waterville — already agreed to file separate lawsuits. In June, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills joined attorneys general from nearly 40 other states to investigate the practices of opioid manufacturers.
Opioid overdoses are killing Mainers at the rate of about one per day. The lawsuit Bangor is joining contends there is a direct link between drug makers’ pushing of prescription opioids and the nation’s drug abuse epidemic. The lawsuit targets every U.S. manufacturer of prescription opioids.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that three-quarters of heroin users first became addicted to opioids through a prescription.
“Bangor is not unique in this. This is a problem all over the country,” Councilor Dan Tremble said at the Dec. 27 meeting. “Some of these executives in these drug companies ought to be in jail for what they’ve done.”
Joining the lawsuit will not cost anything, according to City Solicitor Norm Heitmann, who added that the city will share in any proceeds if the suit is won.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that cities in Maine were in a joint lawsuit.