EVERETT, Wash. – Mayor Ray Stephanson is ready to move forward with a civil lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, a drug manufacturer.
Mayor Stephanson says the city has internal emails that show the company knowingly allowed OxyContin into the black market, and he claims the city will have to spend tens of millions of dollars to deal with the drug problem now plaguing Everett.
Hil Kaman is the city's Public Health and Safety Director, and he's been investigating the problem.
"In 2009-10 the formula for OxyContin was reformulated and that made it more difficult to use on the street. And there was a dramatic drop in the use of prescription opioids, and a dramatic spike in the use of heroin," said Kaman.
Kaman added that the numbers show a dramatic spike in heroin-related deaths followed.
Wednesday evening, Mayor Stephanson went before City Council.
"I'm recommending that the city commence legal action against Purdue Pharma," he announced.
Mayor Stephanson received support from City Council, and plans to pursue a civil lawsuit.
"Theres always a risk when you file a lawsuit. We believe that the evidence is very strong that Purdue directly caused what we are seeing on our streets," said Kaman.
In a statement, Purdue Pharma spokesperson Bob Josephson writes, "We share public officials' concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions. Although OxyContin accounts for only 2% of all pain-related opioid prescriptions, Purdue is an industry leader in abuse detterence as we were the first pharmaceutical company to develop an opioid medication with abuse-deterrent properties."
Mayor Stephanson says, "Right is right. We have discovered a problem. We have discovered that there is a pharmaceutical company that is responsible, and they need to be held accountable."