Killer on LA Streets—Thousands Dying

May 5, 2018 Last Updated: May 5, 2018

It’s worse than homicide. In just 2016 alone, 2,031 deaths in California were related to opioid overdoses, while 353 such cases took place in Los Angeles County, according to data published on Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s website.

In a press conference on May 3, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “This is a killer on our streets.” He also mentioned that among the 10 million residents in Los Angeles County, there were 4.6 million opioid-related prescriptions written, implying the usage of such painkillers is excessively high.

Feuer also expressed his concern and said, “I will not let Los Angeles become the next West Virginia or Ohio when it comes to the devastating effects of the opioid crisis.” Following the footstep of dozens of other U.S. cities, his office filed a civil lawsuit against six leading opioid drug manufacturers as well as three wholesale distributors.

Feuer stated on the official website, “The scourge of prescription drug addiction has made a significant impact on Los Angeles residents and created a continued public nuisance in our city.”  

At the press conference Garcetti said he believes that the homeless situation has worsened because many people are addicted to such drugs, which are related to oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl.

The major opioid drug manufacturing companies being sued are: Purdue Pharma L.P., Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cephalon Inc., Insys Therapeutics Inc., and Mallinckrodt LLC.  

The lawsuit alleges that these companies use false and deceptive business practices to normalize aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs, downplay the high risk of addiction, and exaggerate the benefits of continual use for chronic pain.

In addition, the three major opioid drug wholesalers sued are: McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corporation. They were accused of failing to report suspicious orders and sales of large and frequent orders of prescription pain pills, as required by state and federal law.

The purpose of the joint-states lawsuit is to bring the opioid epidemic to an end. Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66 percent) involved a prescription or illicit opioid.

The CDC’s analysis from 31 states and Washington, D.C., confirms that the recent increases in drug overdose deaths from synthetic opioids was likely caused by illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). Males between the ages of 25 and 44 have the largest increase in opioid overdose death.

“No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic—we all know a friend, family member, or loved one devastated by opioids,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “All branches of the federal government are working together to reduce the availability of illicit drugs, prevent deaths from overdoses, treat people with substance-use disorders, and prevent people from starting using drugs in the first place.”