Mayor Walsh today announced the city has sued 13 drug companies, four drug distributors - and a pain doctor now serving an eight-year federal prison sentence for handing out opioid prescriptions like Halloween candy - for the $64 million the city alleges their negligence with opioids has cost and will continue to cost Boston.
In a complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Boston alleges the city has been forced to clean up the public-health mess the companies made by selling and distributing drugs they knew would create a market of addicted users. Among the manufacturers are the makers of OxyContin and Percocet and their generic equivalents.
In a statement, Walsh said that virtually every city department has seen expenses grow because of the opioid epidemic, even Parks and Recreation, which has to clean up the needles addicts leave behind or ban children from restrooms known for addict use:
It's time to hold accountable the companies that created and fostered this crisis and pursue remedies to stop its harmful marketing tactics.
The suit says the Boston Fire Department has had to spend $2 million between 2014 and 2018 on Narcan expenses - not just for the life-saving drug itself but on special gloves and masks it requires. The suit says firefighters administered 1,182 does of Narcan last year - triple the amount just three years earlier - and that the city is seeing a growing number of firefighters seeking to quit after burning out treating so many people. Meanwhile, EMS has seen narcotics-related calls jump from 1,381 in 2012 to 2,336 just in the first eight months of this year.
In addition to companies, the suit names Fathalla Mashali, a Dover doctor who ran New England Wellness & Pain Management in Peabody and who pleaded guilty last year to charges that included doling out OxyContin prescriptions to people who never underwent the exams he then billed the government for. At one point, he was writing more OxyContin prescriptions than any hospital in the state.
A federal judge sentenced him to eight years in prison and ordered him to pay $8.7 million in restitution.
In its suit, the city says its own health plan paid Mashali for OxyContin he prescribed to employees between January, 2012 and August, 2013.
Three companies that supplied drugs to Mashali are among the distributors sued by Boston.
Entire city complaint (5.7M PDF).