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27 Jun 2017

German Lopez, Vox (USA)

USA: Opioids deaths lead state officials to target drug firms, following model of lawsuits against tobacco industry

"US officials are starting to treat opioid companies like Big Tobacco — and suing them", 7 Jun 2017

…This year, multiple lawsuits have been launched against opioid manufacturers and distributors.  With the opioid crisis now having resulted in more than 300,000 deadly opioid overdoses since 1999...there’s a push to hold accountable the people and companies behind the products…These lawsuits get to the two major legal arguments that different jurisdictions are raising against opioid makers and distributors:

1. Starting in the mid-1990s, opioid manufacturers unleashed a misleading marketing push underplaying the risks of prescription opioids and exaggerating the drugs’ proven benefits. This, the lawsuits argue, adds up to false advertising with deadly consequences — by encouraging doctors to overprescribe the pills and getting patients to think the pills were safe and effective.

2. Opioid distributors supplied a ton of these pills, even when they should have known they were going to people who were misusing the drugs...

Opioid manufacturers and distributors, of course, ferociously deny these allegations...

Purdue [Pharma] gave a comment...: “We share the...concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions...[W]e are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone [medication to block the effects of opioids] — all important components for combating the opioid crisis.”

[refers to Allergan, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, Cephalon (part of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), CVS, Endo, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (part of Johnson & Johnson), Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, McKesson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Walgreen, Walmart]