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Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Sean Baker Publisher

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Bryan Lund Reporter

Rochester joins suit against opioid manufacturers

Rochester joins suit against opioid manufacturers

The City of Rochester is joining a class action lawsuit against drug manufacturers for their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The city council approved without comment Monday a motion to retain the law firm of Chicago-based Keller Lenkner to handle litigation against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, along with other drugmakers. Hundreds of cities, counties and states are suing the pharmaceutical companies for pushing the use of opioids despite being aware of the high risks of abuse.

The agreement comes at no cost to the city. The law firm would only be compensated if they are able recover damages in the suit.

The opioid epidemic, which now claims the lives of 40,000 Americans each year, has stretched the capacity for government agencies to respond to the growing public health crisis. Officials across the country are now hoping to recuperate some of those damages in the form of a settlement similar to the one reached with tobacco companies in the 1990s.

The action by the council came as lawmakers in St. Paul pushed forward with legislation of their own aimed at holding drug manufacturers responsible for the opioid epidemic. The Minnesota Housed passed a bill Monday that would raise fees for companies that sell or distribute opioids and use the funding for prevention, education, and treatment efforts.

Numbers recently released by the Minnesota Department of Health show that at least 422 people in the state died from opioid use in 2017 alone.

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Rochester considers next steps for riverfront site

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