2 counties sue drug manufacturers over opioid marketing

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 13, 2017

- Wayne and Oakland counties are suing more than a dozen drug manufacturers to address the opioid crisis.

"This is a full-blown health crisis from which the drug companies made billions", Executive Evans said.

"I see it as a corporation profits (and) disregards human life", Evans said.

Opioids are a highly addictive and sometimes lethal class of painkillers, including OxyContin and Fentanyl.

Their suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of MI, alleges several drug makers intentionally misled doctors and patients about their products' appropriate uses, risks and safety while downplaying the risks of addiction.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, cites 12 pharmaceutical companies as defendants for complaints of violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, public nuisance, negligence, unjust enrichment and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. In August, Gov. Rick Snyder established the Council on Opioid and Prescription Drug Enforcement after signing an executive directive aimed at combating the opioid crisis in MI.

The Miller Law Firm based in Rochester and Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP., based in Boca Raton, Fla., are representing Wayne and Oakland county.

"It's just staggering that we've gotten to this point", said Warren County Executive Warren Evans. "And we think some compensation is necessary for bad behavior". Lawsuits filed by the city of Chicago and the states of OH and MS are among several similar to the one filed by Oakland and Wayne counties.

"There was a concerted, and tragically successful effort to get more doctors to prescribe these drugs while distorting the conversation about addiction", said Lead Counsel E. Powell Miller of The Miller Law Firm, which is representing both Wayne and Oakland counties.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 183,000 people died in the USA from prescription opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The opioid industry has taken a page out of big tobacco's playbook", Executive Patterson said. In 2016, opioid-related deaths in Wayne County alone totaled 817, up from 506 in 2015, a 61% increase. Opioid-related deaths in Oakland County increased 267 percent from nine deaths in 2009 to 33 deaths in 2015.

Wayne and Oakland Counties have also suffered significant financial consequences that continue to grow as a result of opioid over-prescription and addiction, including increased costs for law enforcement, courts, jails, emergency and medical care services, public works, and substance abuse treatment and diversion plans. "They put profits over people and now people are paying the price, some with their lives".

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