Why States, Counties, and Cities are Suing Opioid Manufacturers for Abusive Sales and Marketing of Deadly Prescriptions in 2018

Two decades ago, smoking was considered a great health threat perpetrated by the tobacco industry. In the end, cigarette companies lost the legal battle against states involved in the litigation and a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was reached—under which states, including California, were provided with $206 billion paid over 25 years.

A new health threat looms across the United States today: the opioid epidemic. While there are many legal differences between the lawsuit against tobacco companies and manufacturers of these potent and highly addictive drugs, states and municipalities alike are left to deal with the consequences of addiction problems.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers aggressively promoted opioid prescriptions by drug manufacturers. As early as the 1990s, they were falsely marketed as being more effective and less addictive than what was currently in use.

Opioid Crisis Affects Both Large and Small Cities

Cities as large as Los Angeles and as small as Williamson, West Virginia, population approximately 2900—to which drug manufacturers shipped 20.8 million prescription opioid painkillers over a ten-year period—are faced with crises ranging from crime to increased pressure on emergency rooms and associated medical costs. The costs associated with the opioid epidemic is estimated at over $1 trillion since 2001, and is growing steadily with another $500 billion in estimated costs in the next 2 years. The costs to state and local governments (West Virginia, Washington D.C. and New Hampshire being especially hard-hit) are passed on to already overburdened taxpayers. In 2015, the average per capita price of this epidemic was $1,700.

The ultimate cost is measured in loss of life caused by these prescription painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 1999 and 2016, more than 200,000 deaths could be attributed to prescription opioid drug overdoses.

In the meantime, prescription opioid drug manufacturers make record profits.

Government agencies are striking back by mounting lawsuits against manufacturers of these lethal prescription drugs:

  • As of August 2018, 27 states have filed civil lawsuits against opioid drug companies including Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, citing deceptive trade practices. States include Alaska, Texas, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Florida and Virginia.
  • San Mateo County, California, is suing drug distributor McKesson Corp. as well as Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. According to a recent news article, these companies “collectively distribute more than 80 percent of the nation’s drugs, falsely promoted the safety and efficacy of addictive prescription opioids and knowingly supplied dangerous quantities of opioids while pushing for limited oversight.” The California Opioid Consortium consists of 30 California counties who claim that opioid drug manufacturers and distributors “created a public nuisance” through their false advertising claims. New York’s Suffolk County is also filing a claim.
  • Everett, Washington became the first city to file suit against Purdue Pharma, alleging that they knew OxyContin was in the black-market stream and did nothing to prevent it. Dayton, Ohio and Paterson, New Jersey are among American cities that are suing manufacturers and companies in their supply chain. The Cherokee Nation has also filed a lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Santa Barbara

If you or a family member trusted that pharmaceutical companies, distributors and healthcare professionals had your well-being at heart and are suffering the effects of opioid drug addiction, you should seek legal help from an attorney experienced in pharmaceutical lawsuits. Contact the Bertling Law Group today at 844-295-7558 to schedule a consultation.