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Cities sue pharma manufacturers, distributors over opioid crisis

Cities sue pharma manufacturers, distributors over opioid crisis

Four cities in New York filed lawsuits against a group of opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging that the companies misled health care providers about addiction risks and seeking financial reimbursement for the costs these cities have incurred due to the opioid crisis.

Alleged damages to the bottom lines of these cities include upticks in spending for workers comp, employee health insurance, emergency first responders and law enforcement costs, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The cities of Plattsburgh, Schenectady, Troy and the state capital, Albany, accused 10 pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of knowingly misrepresenting the truth about prescription opioids to doctors and patients to increase sales and profit, including falsely claiming that opioids are rarely addictive, misrepresenting that opioids improve patient function and quality of life, misrepresenting that patients could safely take opioids long-term for chronic pain management, and falsely claiming that withdrawal was not a problem in prescribing opioids.

The four cities will be joining a number of counties in New York that have already brought lawsuits seeking to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid crisis.

The lawsuits, which were filed on Tuesday in the state supreme courts of Albany, Clinton, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties, name as defendants pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma Inc. of Stamford, Connecticut, and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. of North Whales, Pennsylvania; Cephalon Inc. of Frazer, Pennsylvania; Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey; Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Titusville, New Jersey; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Malvern, Pennsylvania; and distributors McKesson Corp. of San Francisco; Cardinal Health Inc. of Dublin, Ohio; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. of Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania.

A spokesperson for Janssen defended the company’s actions in the marketing and promotion of its prescription opioid pain medications and said the allegations made against Janssen are “baseless and unsubstantiated.”

Endo and McKesson declined to comment on pending litigation; the other named defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The complaints allege that the fraudulent actions of the drug companies have created a public health crisis and caused significant financial strain for the municipalities. “Increased opioid prescriptions as a result of Defendants’ aggressive marketing of opioids for chronic pain therapy have increased [the city of] Albany’s costs related to employee health care and workers compensation insurance and benefit plans,” the lawsuit states.

The cities are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as injunctive relief.








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