Inside an Ohio morgue Monday lay the tiny body of one of the youngest victims of the opioid epidemic ravaging the state: an 18-month-old boy from Akron.
The infant overdosed on Thursday evening and emergency workers — summoned by a 911 call from the victim’s 9-year-old sibling to their Gale Street home — were able to revive him with a dose of Narcan and get him to the hospital, Lt. Rick Edwards of the Akron Police Department told a local news organization.
But on Sunday, the boy died at Akron Children’s Hospital and his body was taken to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy, the ME’s chief investigator Gary Guenther told NBC News.
“We haven’t done the exam yet,” Guenther said. “Right now his death is being classified as a suspicious death of an 18-month-old. When he was brought it, it was as a suspected opioid overdose. That’s how it was reported.”
Asked if he was the youngest suspected overdose victim he’s seen, Guenther simply replied, “Yes.”
Police did not release the boy’s name. They said the drugs belonged to his mother, who fled the home after police and paramedics arrived.
The surviving child has been turned over to the care of the Summit County Children Services.
Tragedy in Ohio: 18-Month-Old Boy Dies of Suspected Opioid Overdose After 9-Year-Old Calls 911 JUN 5 2017
11 students at McFadden Intermediate School, under influence of prescription drug, taken to hospital SCOTT SCHWEBKE BRIAN WHITEHEAD ROXANA KOPETMAN Orange County Register June 6, 2017
The city of Dayton is suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, distributors and pain specialists it alleges caused the opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Ohioans, drained public resources and wasted taxpayer dollars.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Monday announced the city is filing suit because she says drug companies and distributors have financially benefited from the state’s worsening opiate epidemic while Ohio’s communities and residents suffered.
“We believe the drug companies made this mess, and it is time they stop passing the buck to Ohio’s taxpayers and started paying to clean it up,” Whaley said. “The drug companies are profiting, and we are paying for it.”
The city’s lawsuit comes less than one week after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the state will sue five pharmaceutical companies that marketed addictive prescription pain medication.
Whaley, however, said the state’s lawsuit does not go far enough to hold accountable all of the parties responsible for opiate addiction.
DeWine and Whaley are both running for Ohio governor and have made battling opiate addiction a key pillar of their platforms.
Multiple companies named in the lawsuit reached by this newspaper said they are concerned about improper use of opiate medications and denied wrongdoing or acting irresponsibly.
“We firmly believe the allegations in this lawsuit are both legally and factually unfounded,” Jessica Castles Smith, a spokeswoman with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Janssen has acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label.”
The city is filing the lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
“This case is about one thing: corporate greed,” according to the lawsuit’s introduction. “Defendants put their desire for profits above the health and well-being of the city of Dayton consumers at the cost of plaintiff.”
The defendants include some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies as well as a few of the most prominent U.S. advocates for using opiates to treat pain.
In the 1960s, more than 80 percent of people who used opioids started with heroin, Whaley said.
Today, she said, nearly 80 percent of opioid users began with prescription painkillers, many of whom then graduated to heroin and Fentanyl to feed their addiction.
“The heroin epidemic is no accident, it did not just happen,” Whaley said. “It started with the drug companies.”
The city’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the harmful impact the crisis has had on citizens, taxpayers and city resources, city leaders said.
Opiate addiction comes with a heavy cost to families, Ohio communities, first responders and taxpayers, and the problem is growing, Whaley said.
Dayton officials have talked with other Ohio cities for nearly a year about taking legal action against drug makers, distributors and bad physicians, Whaley said.
DeWine’s lawsuit is a step in the right direction but is limited to just five drug companies, while the city’s suit also targets culpable distributors and doctors, Whaley said.
Dayton officials said the city of Lorain is expected to soon file a lawsuit against drug companies and distributors.
“Cities big and small across Ohio are struggling to serve our citizens with the increasing number of accidental overdoses,” said Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer in a statement.
Last week, Montgomery County surpassed the record 349 accidental overdose deaths reported in 2016 — with more than half the year remaining.
Dayton police, fire and EMS personnel so far this year have responded to more than 1,800 calls for service related to suspected drug overdoses, which is on track to double last year’s total, said police Chief Richard Biehl.
Dayton first responders have administered more than 7,600 milligrams of Narcan this year, which is already 50 percent more than they used in 2016, Biehl said.
The epidemic is “taxing public safety resources, and there is no end in sight,” Biehl said.
The city’s lawsuit seeks relief for Dayton’s first responders, who are experiencing burn-out from the mental stress and physical demands of responding to so many drug overdoses and drug-related incidents, said Dayton fire Lt. Sarah Marshall.
Drug addicts and overdose patients can be violent. First responders also are at risk of making contact with Fentanyl, which can be absorbed through the skin, and needles belonging to people with HIV and other contractable diseases, officials said.
Overdoses skyrocket, Big Pharma scrambles for profits June 5, 2017 Sam RolleyTweet
With 790 Arizona residents dead from opioid overdoses last year, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public-health emergency that seeks to bolster the state's efforts to counter the epidemic.
The declaration will soon require hospitals, doctors and other health providers to more frequently update state health officials on overdose deaths and opioid-related encounters.
It also is designed to expand distribution of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone to law enforcement statewide, particularly in communities with clusters of overdose deaths or near-deaths.
The action also aims to develop new guidelines for prescribing opioids and expand access to medication-assisted drug treatment.
The declaration comes after the Arizona Department of Health Services released a report last week showing an average of more than two people died every day last year from prescription opioid or heroin overdoses.
The deaths represented a 74 percent surge since 2012, the report said. State health officials cautioned that last year's death toll might actually be higher because of a lag in reporting deaths.
In March, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said it traced 32 overdose deaths since 2015 to black-market drugs that were laced with the powerful synthetic opiate fentanyl.
Christina Corieri, Ducey's health policy adviser, cited a federal study that suggested four out of five heroin users started on prescribed opiates.
She also said people on average visit a hospital emergency room three times for treatment before a fatal overdose.
Arizona declares opioid crisis a public-health emergency Ken Alltucker The Republic azcentral.com June 5, 2017