In response to the opioid epidemic, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, alongside Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and representatives from the county law department have announced they are suing 11 pharmaceutical manufacturers for false advertising, which they believe contributed to hundreds of overdose victims in Erie County.
According to a statement released by the County Executive's office, the lawsuit argues these drug manufacturers "aggressively marketed opioid pain relievers despite growing addiction rates" and "misled doctors who in turn misled their patients."
In addition, the lawsuit argues the National Institutes of Health cited this aggressive marketing as a "major cause" of the national opioid abuse problem.
Four doctors are also included in the lawsuit because it is alleged they were hired to purposely mislead medical professionals about the dangers of long-term opioid painkiller use.
Reaction to the lawsuit was very positive during a morning meeting of concerned residents at "Save the Michaels House of Hope and Community Resources" at 11 Summer Street in Buffalo.
Parents who lost children to opioid overdoses, concerned clinicians, and families with a loved-one still battling the addiction, have come together to offer a service to other families dealing with opioid addiction. Thirty volunteers have agreed to help provide information, guidance and support for people dealing with an opioid problem.
The goal is to help families become a support system for loved-ones trying to break the addiction.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with the group today.
"Save the Michaels House of Hope" is being sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of WNY. Those interested in contacting the House of Hope's hotline can call (716) 984-8375