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Executive - Press Release

Posted on: February 7, 2018

New Castle County exploring new action to combat opioid crisis

Considers litigation against pharmaceutical companies who bear responsibility for the addiction epidemic

New Castle, DE – New Castle County has hired a leading law firm to help it explore legal action against the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the opioid crisis, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced today.

“Saving lives is one of the most important services that any government provides,” County Executive Matt Meyer said. “Our first responders are on the front lines, fighting the opiate epidemic every single day. As 911 calls related to deadly overdoses have increased, so have costs. The conduct of multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies has caused significant pain and cost so many New Castle County families the lives of their loved ones. We cannot rest until those causing this are held to account and required to contribute to real solutions.”

Growing numbers of overdose incidents are driving a spike in calls for county emergency medical services, and the addiction epidemic is a prime contributor to property crime incidents and other criminal behavior across the county. New Castle County paramedics, police and emergency communications staff collectively serve as the community’s first response to these incidents, and the increased demand attributes to the opioid crisis have increased costs to New Castle County taxpayers.

Today’s announcement reflects the county’s work to facilitate access to treatment services, strengthen the ability of first responders to respond to the opioid crisis and recover costs to taxpayers. It follows most recently an announcement that New Castle County secured funding to expand its life-saving Hero Help Program which facilitates round-the-clock real-time access to treatment and services to individuals experiencing addiction. The grant will fund a full-time Hero Help coordinator, support marketing and outreach efforts and provide hundreds of Narcan Kits for distribution in the community. Individuals can access the Hero Help Program by visiting the Corporal Paul J. Sweeney Public Safety Building at 3601 N. DuPont Highway New Castle, Del. 19720 or calling 302-395-8050. In September, 2017, County Executive Meyer and every member of New Castle County Council committed funding in collaboration with Wilmington’s Greenhill Pharmacy to purchase 600 doses of the overdose-reversal drug Narcan available to each of the county’s 21 volunteer fire companies.

Late last month, New Castle County retained the law firm of Motley Rice to lead an investigation of the conduct of relevant companies that have done business in New Castle County, including those involved in the supply and delivery of opioids. The firm previously secured the $246 billion tobacco Master Settlement Agreement - still the largest civil settlement in history, along with successfully resolving civil litigation surrounding the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” emissions fraud. Motley Rice represented the first municipalities to file Opioid-related cases in 2014 and serves as co-lead counsel in the national multidistrict opioid litigation.

“We have chosen Motley Rice because of its track record of securing landmark outcomes in some of the most significant health, environmental and consumer fraud litigations in state and federal courts over the past generation,” Meyer said. “We intend to move as quickly as possible over the coming weeks to work with the firm to gather information before making a decision about appropriate next steps.”

Motley Rice will be paid on a contingency basis and will be compensated from a portion of a recovery, should there be a legal filing and a recovery to New Castle County.

Hundreds of municipalities, counties and states are considering or have filed opioid-related litigation in an effort to stem the crisis and hold responsible parties accountable. Here in Delaware, Attorney General Matt Denn filed a lawsuit last month against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opioid drugs, alleging that their failures to meet their legal obligations have fueled the opioid addiction epidemic. It seeks to hold them financially responsible for the harm they have caused to the State and its citizens and to require them to change their conduct to help end the epidemic.


Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462

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