New Metro proposal wants to hold drug companies accountable for opioid epidemic


Metro Nashville City Council is considering a bill that would allow the city to hire a law firm to investigate and pursue claims against manufacturers and distributors.

After about thirty minutes of debate on Tuesday, the resolution passed. Then, in a procedural move to reconsider, got deferred another two weeks.

Drug prevention advocates said a law like this is already long overdue. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 1,186 people died statewide from opioid overdoses.

Abuse prevention advocates like Brian Sullivan with Addiction Campuses in Nashville want to see some accountability.

"We're in an epidemic that’s killing 200 people a day," Sullivan said. "If it was a massacre or three plane crashes a week, we would immediately look into it."

Sullivan said he supports the Metro Council proposal that would allow the Mayor to hire a law firm to investigate and even file claims against the manufacturers and distributors of the prescription opioids causing addictions and overdoses.

"We fully support any action that would hold companies accountable for alleged unethical marketing practices and unethical distribution," Sullivan said.

Metro Council Member Sheri Weiner said personal experiences led her to become a co-sponsor.

"Having a family member who fell into the whole opioid issue and needing to be essentially saved from himself and the addiction," Weiner said. "I think accountability is the lynchpin to control over a problem that’s out of control."

Not everyone is on board. Steve Glover is one of the members voting for deferral, bucking a national trend toward prevention.

"If somebody tells me to jump off a bridge, that doesn’t mean I'm going to jump off a bridge," Glover said. "I want to understand it. I want to know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, what is the true cost, and what are we actually opening up here"

The measure will come up again in two weeks.

In September, State Attorney General Herb Slatery announced Tennessee would lead 40 states looking to hold these companies accountable for the opiod epidemic.

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