Washington County Joins Lawsuit Against Narcotic Manufacturers

Washington County Joins Lawsuit Against Narcotic Manufacturers

On Monday, October 30, the office of Washington County State’s Attorney Daniel Bronke released the following statement with regards to a large multi-entity lawsuit seeking to holding narcotic manufacturers and distributors responsible for their part in the opioid epidemic.

Bronke stated that the actual legal filing was over 200 pages of documents.

Washington County has taken a crucial step to hold accountable the companies responsible for dumping millions of dollars’ worth of prescription opioids into its community, filing a RICO lawsuit against the drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.

On October 27, 2017, Washington County joined a growing group of county and city governments in filing suit against five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies and against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors. This suit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Illinois. The suit was filed against manufacturing companies who have pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids and who falsely represented to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction. A main allegation of the lawsuit is that these distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids. Other Illinois counties that have filed similar suit, including Alexander, Bond, Christian, Gallatin, Hardin, Jersey, St. Clair, and Union Counties.

“We are taking this action because the costs of this opioid crisis have overwhelmed our ability to provide for the health and safety of our residents,” said Washington County State’s Attorney, Daniel Bronke. “Families have been torn apart and communities have been devastated by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life in Southern Illinois. This opioid epidemic did not happen by accident – it is the result of the failure by drug makers to safely and responsibly market their branded opioids to doctors and patients in Washington County, and the negligence by wholesale distributors of their legal duty to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.”

The manufacturers listed as defendants in the lawsuit include:

• Perdue Pharma, which sold OxyContin, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Butrans, Hysingla and Targiniq

• Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, which sold Actiq and Fentora

• Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which sold Duragesic and Nucynta

• Endo Health Solutions, which sold Opana, Percodan, Percocet and Zydone

• Allergan, Activis and Watson Pharmaceuticals, which sold Kadian, Norco, and generic versions of several opioids

The wholesale drug distributors listed as defendants in the lawsuit include:

• McKesson

• Cardinal Health

• AmerisourceBergen Drug

Because prescription opioids are a highly addictive substance, in 1970 Congress designed a system to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country. It let only a select few wholesalers gain the right to deliver opioids. In exchange, those companies agreed to do a very important job – halt suspicious orders and control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate uses. But in recent years they failed to do that, and today the Washington County community and families throughout Illinois are paying the price. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number of opioid-related deaths in Illinois increased by 70 percent between 2013 and 2016.

Washington County is working with a consortium of law firms to hold pharmaceutical wholesale distributors accountable for failing to do what they were charged with doing under the federal Controlled Substances Act – monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.

The opioid epidemic has grown worse as people who were addicted to prescription pills have, thanks to heightened enforcement efforts, found them harder to come by. But the residents of Washington County continue to bear the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement have continued to rise. According to a federal study, roughly 1 in 7 people who received a refill or had a second opioid prescription authorized were still on opioids one year later.

The lawsuit filed last week was done by expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable.

Those firms include: Goldenberg, Heller & Antognoli, P.C., Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, LLP, Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A., Baron & Budd, P.C., Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC, McHugh Fuller Law Group, PLLC, and Powell & Majestro, PLLC, with offices located throughout the United States.