New York County Sues Pharma Companies Over Opioid Marketing

Lawsuit is latest move to hold drug firms accountable for opioid epidemic

Orange County, New York, has sued Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and other drug makers, accusing them of engaging in fraudulent marketing that played down the risks of prescription opioid painkillers, leading to the current opioid epidemic in the United States, according to a Reuters report. The lawsuit also named units of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Endo International as defendants.

The case is the latest lawsuit by local and state governments seeking to hold drug makers financially accountable for the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit claims that Purdue and the other firms, through deceptive marketing, misrepresented the dangers of long-term opioid use to doctors, pharmacists, and patients. Those misrepresentations, about drugs such as Purdue’s OxyContin (oxycodone) and Endo’s Opana ER (oxymorphone), led Orange County to incur health care, criminal justice, and other costs related to addiction, the lawsuit claimed.

Orange County, which has a population of approximately 379,000, said it recorded 943 opioid-related emergency department admissions in 2014 and 44 deaths from overdoses involving opioid pain relievers in 2015.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson called the allegations “unfounded” and noted that its drugs carry FDA-mandated warnings.

Purdue said it shares officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis and is “committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”

Endo did not respond to a request for comment. Teva also declined to comment.

Orange County’s lawsuit is the fourth since August by a New York county seeking to recover costs related to opioid addiction. Several other counties are also considering suing pharma companies.

Further, drug makers face lawsuits in California’s Santa Clara and Orange counties; in the city of Chicago; and in Mississippi over their marketing practices, according to Reuters.

Source: Reuters; May 16, 2017.