Fairhaven Joins National Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies
FAIRHAVEN — Hundreds of municipalities across the nation have filed litigation against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute opioids. The Town of Fairhaven voted on Monday to join that fight.
The Fairhaven Board of Selectmen voted 2-0 to join hundreds of Massachusetts communities in participating in litigation against the pharmaceutical companies, a coalition led by Attorney General Maura Healey. Town Administrator Mark Rees signed the action following the Board’s approval.
“It’s definitely something that we should participate in. This is obviously a major crisis and there are a lot of resources that are expended on the Town’s behalf to try to deal with these issues and this is a way for us to try to recuperate some of those costs,” said Selectman Robert Espindola. “We have a lot of programs in place to try and prevent abuse, that’s really our first course of action – trying to prevent it, but we recognize its an ongoing epidemic and we feel like this is an opportunity to recuperate some of those expenses.”
The town will join a list of 160 other communities within the Commonwealth, a number that continues to grow. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the communities involved for expenditures related to the opioid epidemic. Whether that means a full reimbursement of emergency response and medical services related to opiates or a lump sum doled out to each town has yet to be determined in court.
Town Administrator Mark Rees says that town officials have been actively trying to respond to the problem the opioid epidemic has caused.
“The primary purpose of this lawsuit is to recover some of those costs. Secondarily, it also puts the pharmaceutical companies that made these drugs and distributed them in ways that were not appropriate on notice as well,” said Rees. “Fairhaven, like a lot of communities in Massachusetts and across the nation, are certainly feeling the negative effects of the opioid crisis. Our police, our fire and EMS, as well as other ways that we’re dealing with this crisis, that all has costs associated with it.”
There are more than 800 similar lawsuits being filed across the country.
Selectman Daniel Freitas was absent from the meeting.