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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 8 months ago

Ormond Beach joins national litigation against opioid manufacturers

Despite low Narcan deployment data, the city commission still decided it was worth pursuing.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The city of Ormond Beach has decided to enter the multi-district litigation against opioid drug manufacturers and distributers, joining Daytona Beach and Volusia County.

At least 484 cities, counties, states and sovereign nations have hired attorneys from the same six-firm consortium Ormond Beach chose to represent them in the national legal battle that alleges prescription opioid manufacturers "grossly misrepresented the risk of long-term use of those drugs for persons with chronic pain, and distributors failed to properly monitor suspicious orders of those prescription drugs," according to the Northern District of Ohio court. The argument is that this contributed to current opioid epidemic in the U.S.

The city chose the law firm of Levin Papantonio to represent them in the litigation, which is the same firm that represents Volusia County. The firm will bear the cost for now. If the litigation prevails, the firm would deduct fees and costs from the money awarded to the city. 

The county joined in June 2018, and Daytona made the decision this May. The city of Deltona also recently entered the litigation as well. 

"I don't think anyone would dispute that Ormond Beach, like every community in the country, has been affected by the opioid situation," Deputy City Attorney Ann-Margret Emery said.

However, the city's numbers don't support that at this time, she added. 

Since January, the Ormond Beach Police Department has documented deploying 10 Narcan nasal sprays. From January 2018 to January 2019, the Ormond Beach Fire Department administered eight doses of Narcan via IV. Each dose costs $41.46, a city memo states.

Though the Fire Department responded to 31 overdose incidents in that time period, the majority were from elderly residents who accidentally took the wrong dose for their medication, Emery said.

"No one knows how this is all going to end up," she said. "It's really unclear how long it's going to take."

But, Emery said there isn't a downside to entering the litigation. The only cost the city would bear would be staff time.

Only City Commissioner Dwight Selby expressed some hesitation toward joining, citing the time and effort staff would need to dedicate. He said litigations like this usually want more cities and municipalities to "bolster" their numbers. However, he said he'd go along with what the rest of the commission decided.

Mayor Bill Partington said there's a likelihood the city will see some compensation eventually. The city may not have high Narcan deployment data, but Partington said he believed it was worth getting involved if even only one Ormond Beach family was affected by the epidemic.

“Just the one makes it worth trying to get something back," Partington said.

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