Memphis City Council discusses suing drug companies over opioid crisis

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioners recently discussed filing a lawsuit against drug manufacturers. Now, Memphis City Council members indicate they may be on board, too.

"We talked about possible opioid litigation and the benefits for pursuing it," Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford, Jr. said.

Councilwoman Patrice Robinson said she nearly got addicted to Oxycontin more than a decade ago after taking it for hip pain.

"I could be a statistic there. This is an important issue," she said.

More local and state governments are suing painkiller manufacturers to recoup taxpayer losses – like police, fire, and EMS response – that they attribute to opioid addictions. In fact, three East Tennessee district attorneys filed a suit against pharmaceutical companies in June.

Attorneys say the underlying theory is that manufacturers lied about the substances' addictive properties.

"This is about drug companies that poisoned our community, the difference between medicine and poison is dosage," attorney Michael Working said.

"It touches everybody in the county one way or the other," Shelby County Commissioner Terry Rowland said.

Shelby County Commissioners first started publicly discussing a possible lawsuit in June, but Roland told WMC5's Kendall Downing on Tuesday he's not interested in joining with City of Memphis, and he'd prefer the commission files on its own.

Ford said he'd like to draw up a resolution on the issue to present to council members in two weeks. He is currently in the process of reaching out to county commissioners to gauge their interest in cooperation.

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