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Bensalem To Sue Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- Frustrated over the ongoing opioid crisis, a Bucks County community has announced that they're planning to sue the pharmaceutical companies behind the pills.

Bensalem Mayor Joe DiGirolamo says the goal of the suit is to recoup money paid out by Bensalem to fight the heroin and opioid crisis.

"Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by this community because of these drugs and how bad it is," the mayor said.

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There is no figure attached to the lawsuit yet, as officials say numbers are still being tabulated, but director of Bensalem Police Fred Harran says the costs are high.

"Two hundred-million-dollars approximately in law enforcement expenses over the last 10 years," Harran said.

Side-by-side with other township leaders, DiGirolamo announced a massive civil lawsuit against at least four different pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson.

"These distributors and drug makers have to take an obligation and understand what's happening and get a handle on it," the mayor said.

In 2016, 197 people overdosed from opioids in Bensalem Township, which was was 500-plus percent increase from 2006.

State Rep. Gen DiGirolamo fully supports the mayor's plan. His son, who is in his 40s now, was a heroin addict for about three years.

"They know what they've been doing. They've been misrepresenting the dangers of these dangerous addictive drugs for years," the state representative said.

Attorney Greg Heller, whose firm will represent the township pro bono, would not directly address what the suit alleges the pharmaceutical companies did, but says it will be similar to other lawsuits filed in other states.

"Nuisance, fraud negligence, in some situations, breach of contract," said Heller.

In June, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office announced they're one of "more than 40 states" looking into possible unlawful marketing by opioid manufacturers. The office says they believe a multi-state effort would be much more effective.

It's unclear at this point when and where the suit will be filed.

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