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Mayor Walsh exploring litigation against pharmaceutical companies for opioid crisis

January 22, 2018

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

The Mayor announced that he is exploring mass tort litigation against several pharmaceutical companies

Building on his commitment to support those in recovery and those suffering from substance use disorders in Boston and across the country, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that he is exploring mass tort litigation against several pharmaceutical companies that irresponsibly saturated the market with opiates, knowingly putting consumers at risk for addiction.

To formally start this process, Mayor Walsh will be issuing a Request for Information (RFI) on Monday, February 5 seeking information from law firms, researchers and other interested parties that would inform the city's approach to potential opioid litigation. Over the past few months, the City of Boston has been meeting with various law firms and collecting relevant information in preparation for potential litigation.

Having been in recovery for over 20 years, Mayor Walsh understands firsthand how easily addiction can take hold and how difficult it can be to recover. In his first term, Mayor Walsh made expanding access to recovery services in Boston a priority by creating the Office of Recovery Services to study substance use in Boston and lead the city's strategy around substance use disorders, addiction and recovery. This is the first and only municipal recovery office in the nation.

In addition, Mayor Walsh mandated the life-saving medication naloxone (Narcan) be carried in every public safety vehicle in the city in his first two weeks in office and launched a new 24/7 hotline through 311 to help people struggling with addiction access all levels of recovery services.

Continuing these efforts into his second term, Mayor Walsh announced in his inaugural speech earlier this month that his Administration will rebuild the Long Island Bridge and invest in a comprehensive, long-term recovery facility on Long Island. These new services will offer a continuum of care, from harm reduction, to detox, to residential treatment, to transitional housing and ongoing peer support, and equip people with the opportunity to rebuild a life.

Read the request for information

Request for information to: inform the City of Boston’s approach for initiating litigation against pharmaceutical companies and distributors that irresponsibly saturated the market with opiates knowingly putting consumers at risk for addiction

The City of Boston (the "City") is in the process of information gathering and researching approaches:

  1. for bringing mass tort litigation against pharmaceutical companies and others in the distribution and marketing chains that irresponsibly saturated the market with opiates; and
  2. for evaluating the financial, social, and other costs caused by the reckless dissemination of opioids and misleading information about the safety and purpose of their use, which continues to cause irreversible and fatal devastation and significant damages to cities nationwide.

The City seeks to gather information from qualified law firms, universities, think tanks, hospitals, governmental entities, researchers, and any other interested entities/parties to help inform the City’s approach for developing best practice legal and other strategies to recoup public money in the form of damages arising from the City’s use of its public services to combat the resulting opioid crisis.

All responses should be submitted in the manner set forth in the RFI, which may be obtained by contacting John Natoli, Boston City Hall, Room 608, Boston, MA 02201, at John.Natoli@boston.gov on or after 9 a.m. on Monday, February 5, 2018. The City shall accept responses up to the time, and at the location, specified in the RFI.

This RFI is not a solicitation for proposals, proposal abstracts, or quotations. This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and shall not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the City to issue a Request for Proposal. The City, in its discretion, may decide in the future to issue an RFP or RFPs based on information obtained as a result of the RFI.