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Local man who lost son in opioid epidemic says settlement is not enough

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CLEVELAND-- A Northeast Ohio father who lost his youngest son to the opioid epidemic said he believes Monday’s multi-million dollar settlement is not enough. He said he believes the drug companies involved are not taking full responsibility for the pain that his family and others have endured.

Greg McNeil, of Hudson, was in the courtroom when Cuyahoga and Summit counties reached a settlement with the nation’s three largest drug distributors and a major drug maker. He said $260 million is not enough to cover the damage that he feels the opioid epidemic has caused. He wants to hear an admission of guilt and an apology.

"If they would have taken responsibility for misleading the public and causing the epidemic, then I think we would have had some opportunity, a little bit of closure for families throughout America that have lost loved ones, but sadly that hasn't happened," McNeil said.

He said no financial settlement will ever make his family whole again. It has been his mission to help fight the opioid epidemic, ever since he lost his 28-year old son, Sam, to a heroin overdose.

"This Wednesday, it'll be four years since we've lost him, it was October 23rd of 2015…. The heroin that he was supplied that day was heavily laced with fentanyl," he said.

McNeil said Sam's addiction began after he was treated for a serious injury. He applauds the money that Monday's settlement between Cuyahoga and Summit counties and the drug companies will bring for drug treatment and prevention programs, but fears that will not be enough.

"The numbers that we're talking about, while they sound very, very impressive... For this battle, it's gonna take much more than that at $260 million," McNeil said.

Since his son's death, McNeil has been busy. He records a weekly podcast about the opioid epidemic and has encouraged communities to place Narcan emergency kits in public places. He also promotes a free life-saving app, that allows anyone to register to carry Narcan, and locates someone who has it, within a 2 mile radius.

"It's an Uber for Narcan, it's really amazing," McNeil explained.

He said in honor of the 400,000 lives lost to opioids, he would like to see 400,000 addicted people receive free, first-rate drug treatment.

"The cost of that would be $86.4 billion for our country to do that and that's what I'd love to see happen," McNeil said.

McNeil also said although the settlement provides money for treatment and education programs, it does nothing to compensate families who have already lost loved ones.

Anyone who wants more information about opioid addiction and prevention, McNeil has a website, www.cover2.org or for information about the Community of First Responders, www.cfr.help/intro.

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