City of Warren could sue drug manufacturers for opioid crisis

Metro Detroit is still in the grips of the opioid epidemic and the Warren mayor is gearing up for a new battle.

"A lot of people are overdosing from them, a lot of people are dying from them," said Shiloh Underwood. 

Underwood says it is easy to get them.

"When I first came in here, I got them the very same day," she said.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts is taking action, proposing to sue drug manufacturers saying they failed to inform of the risks of opioids and they're deceptive in their marketing.

"The opioid, heroin epidemic is the leading cause of accidental death today," Fouts said. "The doctors are part of the problem as are small-time drug dealers but the real problem is the American pharmaceutical industry, who for decades has marketed these opioids as safe and nondependent."

Earlier this year, Wayne and Oakland Counties filed a suit against drug manufacturers, Detroit plans to file by the end of the year.  Now, Warren will file soon.

Joan Flynn says she was given too many drugs after surgery.

 "The pharmacy calls me and says your prescription is ready, I said what prescription, they said for pain," she said. "I didn't have any pain.  They're pushy."

The Warren plan is the city will pay you $500 to turn in a pusher. The mayor says they've had some success with raids and convictions. But he says, lawsuits are better.

"If you look at productivity, you look at health care costs, criminal costs, blight, a whole lot of other things," Fouts said. "You've got a large amount of money."

The mayor hopes his lawsuit, like that of the tobacco settlement in 1998, will force the pharmaceutical industry to stop it's deceptive advertising and pay the costs associated with the injuries. Pharmaceutical industry has said in the past; they are following the law.

"If you don't cut the head off the snake if you won't eliminate the problem," Fouts said. "And the snake is the pharmaceutical industry."