Cities and towns across the country have been devastated by the health consequences of America’s opioid epidemic. Now some of those towns – many of them in rural areas – are fighting back with lawsuits filed against drugmakers that aggressively promoted the opioid medications that helped to fuel the opioid crisis.
One of the first municipal opioid lawsuits was filed in Washington state by officials in the city of Everett in January. The lawsuit – filed in state court against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin – alleges that Purdue should be required to pay for the costs of drug-related services borne by the city because the drugmaker failed to take adequate steps to prevent the drug from being sold illegally.
According to the lawsuit, “huge quantities of OxyContin were disseminated from Purdue to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers and into the black market within Everett.” As a result of the drugmaker’s actions, the lawsuit alleges, “resulting drug abuse, addiction, and crime caused by Purdue have imposed, and will continue to impose, sizeable costs on Everett, both social and economic.” The lawsuit alleges that as a result of the opioid epidemic, taxpayers in Everett have been saddled with bills for EMS services, drug treatment, legal fees, police and prison costs, and expenditures in nearly every other department in the city.
Earlier this month, officials in Broome County, New York filed lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and other drugmakers over their sale and marketing of opioid painkiller medications. According to attorneys representing Broome County, beginning in 1994, the defendant corporations “embarked on a campaign to basically mislead prescribing physicians about the addictive characteristics of these narcotics.” The lawsuit accuses the companies of “deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, public nuisance, violation of New York Social Services laws, fraud and unjust enrichment” in connection with the sale of opioid medications.
Erie County – which experienced more than 300 deaths in 2016 due to opioid overdose – also filed a lawsuit against Purdue, Teva, Johnson & Johnson, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Endo, and other opioid manufacturers. Attorneys for Erie County say that the defendant pharmaceutical companies “were aware of the significant dangers posed by opioid prescription medications, yet that did not stop them from continuing to push opioids, and get even more people hooked on them.”
In West Virginia, the town of Welch filed a lawsuit against drug wholesalers McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, Miami-Luken, and H.D. Smith. The lawsuit alleges that the five companies delivered massive quantities of OxyContin and other opioids to the region but failed to take adequate steps to prevent these pills from falling into the wrong hands. Welch officials allege that the cost of dealing with the opioid epidemic has strained the city’s sanitation, law enforcement, and emergency services, while the drug wholesalers “sat back and counted the money they made off their misdeeds.” McDowell County, where Welch is located, has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the entire U.S.
Another town in West Virginia – Kermit in Mingo County – filed a lawsuit against the same five wholesalers, as well as Sav-Rite Pharmacy, which was formerly located in the area. The lawsuit alleges that between 2007 and 2012, the wholesalers shipped 423 million opioid doses to West Virginia, earning more than $17 billion in revenue, but leaving towns like Kermit to clean up the mess left behind. The nearby town of Logan recently announced that it would join Kermit’s lawsuit.
The town of Richwood, West Virginia filed a lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. The lawsuit alleges that the three drug wholesalers flooded West Virginia with opioid medications without regard for the consequences for local residents. As a result of the outbreak of addictions, drug abuse, and overdoses caused by the opioid crisis in West Virginia, local officials have been forced to spend substantial sums in order to treat the costs of the region’s opioid problem.
When a loved one has been the victim of overdose caused by opioid painkillers, the manufacturer of the drug – or the doctor or hospital who prescribed them – may be responsible. The aggressive marketing of painkillers such as OxyContin and fentanyl by the pharmaceutical industry played a key role in the spread of the opioid crisis in the U.S. Doctors and hospitals have also contributed to the opioid epidemic by indiscriminately prescribing these drugs to patients.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an overdose or other serious complications caused by prescription opioid painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company or medical practitioners responsible for these injuries. The first step in taking legal action is to talk with a law firm with the experience and knowledge to successfully handle your case from start to finish.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous individuals who have been the victim of complications caused by opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our law firm has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch—a powerful opioid painkiller that is about 80-100 times more powerful than morphine—than all other law firms in the country combined.
For more information about filing a lawsuit and to learn if you may be eligible to file a case, contact our law firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also contact us by following the link to our free case evaluation form at the top of this page and answering a few simple questions to get started.