Lorain city council votes to sue opioid manufacturers

LORAIN, Ohio - The battle against the opioid epidemic could be moving from the streets to the court-house. The mayor of Lorain is one of two Ohio mayors who wants to sue drug manufacturers.

The Lorain city council voted unanimously Monday night to go ahead with a lawsuit against makers of opioid drugs. Earlier in the day, the mayor of Dayton had announced that his city had actually filed suit.

"We can't go to church, we can't go to a restaurant, you can't go to a family event without seeing somebody who has been impacted by the heroin epidemic," said Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer as he addressed council members.

Ritenauer urged members of city council to approve filing a lawsuit against a list of opioid manufacturers and distributors. He blames them, in part for the opioid overdose epidemic ravaging his city, the state of the Ohio and the entire country.

"A lot of it has to do with how many pain killers and opiates are on the market that were advertised as not being addictive, as being, 'this is going to help your current ailment, it's not addictive' I think many of these drugs were passed on the market under false pretenses," said the mayor.

In recent years, Ohio has led the nation in overdose deaths. Last year, there were about 140 overdose deaths in Lorain County...double the number from the year before.

"There is a connection, the more opiates on the market, the heroin epidemic, the number of deaths every year, it is increasing, in some cases ten fold...the city of Lorain, every year in the last three years or four years, we continue to see overdose deaths," said Ritenauer.

Mayor Ritenauer says the costs to the city is significant both in the number of lives lost and money spent.

"The amount of money we spend on narcotics investigations, drug busts, the time to prosecute those who are dealing drugs...Narcan, which Lorain County is the first county who did a pilot program of Narcan," he said.