Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler has announced the city of Muncie is suing the three largest opioid distributors in the United States in response to Indiana's growing opioid crisis. Those distributors named are Cardinal Health, Amerisores Bergen, and Mckesson.
"Well I think it's a very good idea. As a matter of fact, it's such a good idea that the city of Muncie had signed on with a law firm on September the 22 to pursue the same avenues to try and help us recover some of our expenses in dealing with these issues," Tyler said when asked about Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett's similar lawsuit.
Tyler is seeking reimbursements for the costs the city has experienced financially due to emergency responses to opioid overdoses, but he also filed suit for a bigger reason.
"We could wipe this off the map, and we could wake up November 1 and this epidemic was gone," Tyler said.
Tyler said he has seen studies that show opioid abuse is now the leading cause of death for those under 50 years old in Indiana and that the economic burden the opioid epidemic has had on Indiana is now approaching $78.5 billion. Tyler said 82 percent of Muncie's general budget is going towards public safety, primarily due to drug problems.
"It's extremely devastating to communities that are trying to deal with these issues," Tyler said.
Muncie Police Chief Joe Winkle estimates drugs in general contribute to 90 percent of the crimes his officers respond to. That includes armed robberies, house break-ins and shootings.
"Ultimately, you're not looking for money," Winkle said. "Being reimbursed for your time and your expenditures would be great, but in reality, what you're really looking for is to slow down the problem."
Tyler said the city signed on with a law firm to pursue this on September 22, two weeks before Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced that city's lawsuit. He hopes these cases will push for opioid reform either within the distributors or in the government.
This story will be updated.