The City of Great Falls has decided to join the fight against the opioid crisis.
On Monday, city commissioners voted to retain Simon, Greenstone, Panatier, Bartlett, P.C., Kovacich Snipes, P.C. of Great Falls, Edwards, Frickle, & Culver of Billings, Beck Amsden & Stalpes, PLLC of Bozemans, and Boone Karlberg P.C. of Missoula to represent the city against several pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The city not only considers what counsel had to say but they also heard from police and fire officials about how opioids affect the city on a daily basis.
Mayor Bob Kelly says the city has had a lot of discussion about the topic, and entered into this process very carefully
"We want to do something to say to the medical community and the pharmaceutical community: better responsibility better be shown in the future. When these types of drugs are brought into society and potentially falsely advertise with the benefits and the lack of disadvantages that they have to a particular addiction,” Kelly said.
Kelly says they still have the opportunity to withdraw from the lawsuit if they feel it does not benefit the community.
Drug overdose deaths are on the rise nationally and are the third leading cause of injury-related death in Montana, accounting for 1,334 deaths between 2003 and 2014. The rate of opioid overdose death in Montana was just below the national average of 5.5 per 100,000 in 2013-2014, at 5.4 deaths per 100,0001.
Since 2000, the rate of prescription drug overdose deaths has doubled, with more than 700 deaths from prescription opioid overdose alone.
For every 100 Montanans, there are 83 painkiller prescriptions written annually in the state.
In 2015, over 15% of high schoolers in Montana reported having taken a prescription medication without a prescription in their lifetime.