In response to opioid crisis, council OKs resolution about CVS

  • The Greenfield City Council approved a resolution on Wednesday requesting compensation from CVS Health Corp. for its role in the opioid crisis in Greenfield. AP File PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2019 10:37:03 PM
Modified: 10/17/2019 10:36:53 PM

GREENFIELD — The City Council approved a resolution on Wednesday requesting compensation from CVS Health Corp. for its role in the opioid crisis in Greenfield.

The resolution requested “voluntary payment in the amount of $0.50 for each opioid pill dispensed from 2006 to 2012, for a total of $2,664,965, with half of that sum payable to the City of Greenfield and half payable to the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region.”

The resolution was approved by a simple majority of seven councilors; three were opposed and two abstained.

Precinct 5 Councilor Tim Dolan, who put forward the resolution, said “as with all resolutions, it’s symbolic. I think of it more as a strongly worded letter to CVS.”

He added that regardless of the amount of money, he did not believe CVS or other involved companies, “will ever adequately compensate the people of Franklin County. I don’t believe it is possible given the scale of this epidemic.”

“This addiction crisis has led to at least 110 deaths in Franklin County since 2010, has created immeasurable grief for families in the area, has made our community less safe, and has cost local taxpayers significant sums for the provision of additional law enforcement, EMS, social services and recovery options,” the resolution states. “A single CVS Pharmacy location, at 137 Federal St. in the city of Greenfield, MA, dispensed 5,299,930 doses of these dangerous and addictive narcotics between 2006 and 2012, a number amounting to more than 42 doses per year for every individual in the city of Greenfield and exceeding by a factor of four the number sold by the local pharmacy with the next-highest sales.”

Precinct 2 Councilor Brickett Allis, Precinct 1 Councilor Verne Sund and At-Large Councilor Isaac Mass were opposed to the resolution for varying reasons.

Mass said he thought the resolution was meaningless and would rather take another course of action.

“This is something like blaming the grocery store for an E. Coli outbreak that happens at a farm,” Mass said. “I think it’s outrageous that we’re pointing fingers and trying to blame everyone. I get this is a big problem and none of this is doing anything to solve our problem. I’d rather see us invest resources into social services in the community, even if it’s staff members through the Board of Health for outreach to connect people to services that would actually do something.”

Stating he feared the resolution would have harmful consequences to people in need of opioid medications, Allis said he did appreciate where Dolan was coming from.

“What it will do, I believe, is withhold medications from people who do need it. Opioids can and do also save lives,” Allis said. “Case in point, my daughter got her opioids from CVS because they were open 24 hours when she came home from the NICU. That’s where we go for her medication.”

Sund stated he was also against the resolution.

“It’s a good point Brickett made about his daughter, and he had enough responsibility to do what the doctor said and what needed to be done,” Sund said. “But people as adults that know when they’re taking too much and don’t stop, then it’s their responsibility, not CVS.”

Wheeler, who abstained, said he supported the resolution in spirit.

“I think I told the Recorder I supported this resolution,” Wheeler said. “Upon considering that CVS is already in litigation with the city, I don’t think I can support this.”

In support of the resolution, At-Large Councilor Ashli Stempel shared a personal story about opioids. At 17, Stempel said she was in a car accident and was administered morphine through a drip at a hospital; however, her dosage was increased, the timer was not changed and she overdosed.

“A code was called out. Then I was given what I assume was Narcan. I was told it was something that reverses the effects like an EpiPen, but I believe it must have been Narcan,” Stempel said. “I remember coming back from that experience — it’s the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life … so I empathize with the families and victims of the opioid crises.”

From that experience, Stempel said she began to “advocate for ourselves and other patients,” which she believes the council needs to do.

Precinct 2 Councilor Mark Berson, who was also in support of the resolution, said it is a way for the council to have a voice.

“Do we have the power to impose our will? No. Do we have the power to add our voice? Yes,” Berson said. “The fact we record this will contribute to justice in many ways.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.


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