Lawsuits targeting the country’s top pharmaceutical companies for allegedly igniting the opioid epidemic through knowingly false marketing continue to roll on into 2018.
Officials from localities in New York and Wisconsin formally sued drug makers earlier this week, and officials in a Georgia city are making preparations to join in the litigation efforts against opioid manufacturers and their distributors. Law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy filed a lawsuit on behalf of Oswego County in New York on Thursday seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the public cost of the opioid abuse crisis in the county, reports Watertown Daily Times.
The litigation targets Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, their parent companies and subsidiaries, along with a number of doctors operating in Oswego County.
“Drug companies must be held responsible for their fraudulent and deceptive role in causing the worst drug epidemic the country has ever seen,” said Paul Hanly of Simmons Hanly Conroy, lead counsel for Oswego County in the litigation, according to Watertown Daily Times.
Officials in Winnebago County, Wis., joined 11 other counties in a blistering lawsuit filed Friday, calling the marketing efforts of pharmaceutical companies “nefarious” and claiming drug makers were fully aware, “their opioid products were addictive, subject to abuse, and not safe or efficacious for long-term use,” reports Oshkosh Northwestern.
The lawsuit similarly targets the major pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. and seeks damages for the tremendous public cost of the ongoing epidemic.
Meanwhile, officials in Augusta, Ga., sent out a memo Tuesday outlining the way in which drug companies and their distributors turned patients into addicts in pursuit of profits. The lawsuit is expected to be filed once city commissioners approve a final plan, reports The Augusta Chronicle.
Pharmaceutical companies have previously denied any claims of wrongdoing and say they are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic.
“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution,” a spokesman for Purdue Pharma previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to a lawsuit filed by the attorney general of New Jersey. “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
Lawsuits are mounting against the largest drug makers in the country for their alleged complicity in sparking the opioid crisis through dishonest advertising. There are currently more than 75 cities and states suing pharmaceutical companies over the destructive addiction crisis.
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” on Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing 63,600 people in 2016. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives last year, a 28 percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015, according to data released Dec. 21 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opioid overdose made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer.
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