Covington to file suit against opioid companies amid sky-high Narcan budget

Posted at 1:26 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 13:32:00-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A Northern Kentucky river city is the latest to file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors and prescribers. 

The Covington City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire a Covington-based law firm to file suit in an effort to recoup some of the resources spent on saving people’s lives. 

Covington’s budget for Narcan skyrocketed to $54,000 in 2017, which is six times higher than previous years, according to EMS Director David Geiger. The city's Narcan budget was $9,000 in 2016.

The department handles at least one opioid-related run a day, Geiger said. In addition to supplies, the department has spent a considerable amount of time and resources training its 60 employees. 

"We're responding into situations where we're seeing just the absolute devastation this crisis is wreaking on these families and it's not just the patients themselves, it's the family members, the children,” Geiger said. “That takes a very heavy emotional toll on our staff … to make sure we keep them in a good state of mind to go out and effectively perform their job."

Kenton County and Boone County have filed similar lawsuits, but they haven’t made it through the court system, so it’s difficult to estimate how much of a settlement Covington could receive. 

As of December, dozens of county governments in Kentucky and Ohio had sued three major drug companies, alleging they're responsible, in part, for the region's opioid problem.

Cincinnati sued the three distributors in August, demanding the firms reimburse the city for the costs of curbing the epidemic. Hamilton County joined the suit a day later.

At least 23 Ohio counties and 42 Kentucky counties have filed lawsuits against AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health since July.

Covington’s agreement with Bonar, Bucher & Rankin is contingency-based, so the city will not pay attorney fees if the firm is unable to recover a settlement.