In response to the growing opioid epidemic, the attorneys general of several
states have launched an investigation into the role that drug companies
may be playing. The probe specifically focuses on the companies’
opioid marketing and sales practices, which have fueled the uptick in
pain medication use across the United States.
"We are looking into what role, if any, marketing and related practices
might have played in the increasing prescription and use of these powerful
and addictive drugs,"
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. He added: “Although we are not identifying any specific targets
of our investigation at this time, if we turn up evidence that marketing
practices played an unlawful role in the exponential growth of opioid
prescriptions, rest assured: We will take action.”
Opioids were involved in 33,091 overdose deaths nationwide in 2015. In
addition, opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. Meanwhile, the
pharmaceutical industry makes more than $24 billion each year from pain
medication. In 2016,
doctors wrote approximately 300 million opioid prescriptions to U.S. patients. Given that the population of the country is 330 million,
that is nearly one prescription per person.
Lawsuits Against Opioid Drug Companies
In Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine has already filed suit against opioid
drug manufacturers for misrepresenting the risks associated with the potent
medications. The suit specifically alleges that the pharmaceutical companies:
(1) downplayed the serious risk of addiction; (2) promoted the concept
of “pseudoaddiction” and thus advocated that the signs of
addiction should be treated with more opioids; (3) exaggerated the effectiveness
of screening tools in preventing addiction; (4) claimed that opioid dependence
and withdrawal are easily managed; (5) denied the risks of higher opioid
dosages; and (6) exaggerated the effectiveness of “abuse-deterrent”
opioid formulations to prevent abuse and addiction.
The suit further maintains that the opioid manufacturers “falsely
touted the benefits of long-term opioid use, including the supposed ability
of opioids to improve function and quality of life, even though there
was no ‘good evidence’ to support Defendants’ claims.”
The defendants named in the suit include Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson &
Johnson, Endo International Plc, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and
The State of Mississippi has filed a similar suit. Several other local
governments, including two California counties, are also taking legal action.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a dangerous
or defective drug, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego product liability attorney
at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.