In 2018 there were a total of 38 drug-related deaths in Rockland County, down from 40 each in 2017 and 2016. This is unacceptable. I recently signed a resolution approving an agreement with Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC to take legal action against the manufacturers of prescription opiates that contributed to the opioid epidemic.
We are now moving forward, taking action against the pharmaceutical companies that made and sold prescription opioids that contributed to this epidemic of abuse. We expect these companies to pay for the damage, death and destruction their outrageous marketing strategies have brought to our communities.
The response to this epidemic has inherent costs that so far have been unfairly borne by our taxpayers. Costs to local law enforcement and first responders, for counseling and assistance to our residents facing this crisis in their families, and the treatment costs for those who are addicted.
This action will bring accountability to these companies and justice for the many victims of this crisis. That is why we are using the legal system to bring this deadly epidemic back to the corporations that started it, the pharmaceutical companies. It is time that they take responsibility for their actions.
Rockland has taken a comprehensive approach in dealing with the opioid epidemic, and this legal action is just the latest step. The Department of Mental Health has partnered with local law enforcement to host multiple Drug Take Back Days and Narcan Trainings.
We in county government are doing everything we can think of to combat this crisis. Heroin and other drugs are stealing too many of our residents, particularly our young people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion annually.
Not a cent of the cost for this legal action will come from the pockets of Rockland taxpayers. Costs will be paid from any settlement reached on the County’s behalf, if there is one. If not, Rockland does not have to pay.
We look forward to working with Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC as the next step in addressing the factors that contributed to the opioid epidemic. We will not allow those who caused this epidemic to escape justice. Those who have seen it’s destruction deserve more.