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De Blasio announces lawsuit against largest opioid manufacterers and distributors

Staff Writer |
Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced a the City had filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court to hold manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids to account for their part in the City’s ongoing deadly opioid epidemic.

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The lawsuit aims to recover half a billion dollars in current and future costs the city will incur to combat this epidemic.

In 2016, more than 1,000 people in New York City died in a drug overdose which involved an opioid, the highest year on record.

More New Yorkers died from opioid overdoses last year than from car accidents and homicides combined.

“More New Yorkers have died from opioid overdoses than car crashes and homicides combined in recent years.

“Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s time for hold the companies accountable for what they’ve done to our City, and help save more lives.”

The lawsuit alleges that the opioid crisis caused by manufacturers’ deceptive marketing, and distributors’ flooding of prescription painkillers into New York City has placed a substantial burden on the City through increased substance use treatment services, ambulatory services, emergency department services, inpatient hospital services, medical examiner costs, criminal justice costs, and law enforcement costs.

Furthermore, manufacturers sought to create a false perception that using opioids to treat chronic pain was safe for most patients and that the drugs’ benefits outweighed the risks.

This was perpetrated through a coordinated, sophisticated and highly deceptive promotion and marketing campaign – including unbranded messaging to evade extensive regulatory framework governing branded communications.

These communications, which began in the late 1990s, became more aggressive around 2006 and continue today.

Distributor defendants, who have both the obligation and the tools to track suspiciously large surges in opioid demand, including at the level of individual pharmacies or clinics, have failed to use these tools to warn public officials about suspicious orders, which they are legally required to do, or to reasonably exercise controls over the obvious oversupply of opioid pills.

Manufacturer named in the suit are Purdue Pharma; Purdue Pharma; The Purdue Frederick Company; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA; Cephalon; Johnson& Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals; OrthoMcNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Janssen Pharmaceutica n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions; Endo Pharmaceuticals; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis; Actavis f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals; Watson Laboratories; Actavis Pharma f/k/a Watson Pharma The distributors are McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health; and AmerisourceBergen Corporation.

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