Four sheriffs in Lafayette are suing the makers of opioids like OxyContin, Percocet, and fentanyl for causing today's opioid epidemic through a combination of false advertising and masking the true extent of the medications addictive properties to increase profits. The law firm Laborde-Earles is representing Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber, Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods, Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson and Rapides Parish Sheriff Earl Hilton have each filed lawsuits on Monday. The four sheriffs announced the litigation's publicly which name the following companies as defendants and the drugs in question.
-OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride extended-release), MS Contin (morphine sulfate extended-release)
-Dilaudid and Dilaudid-HP (hydromorphone hydrochloride)
-Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitrate)
-Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride)
-Actiq (fentanyl citrate)
-Fentora (fentanyl citrate)
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, which worked with Cephalon in the production, distribution, and sales of opioids, -including brand-name and generic forms of OxyContin, according to the lawsuit.
Johnson & Johnson, which owns more than 10 percent of Janssen Pharmaceuticals stock and controls the sale and development of the company's drugs, according to the lawsuit.
-Nucynta (tapentadol extended release)
-Nycynta ER (tapentadol)
Endo Health Solutions and its subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals
-Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride extended-release)
-Opana (oxymorphone hydrochloride)
-Percodan (oxymorphone hydrochloride and aspirin)
-Percocet (oxymorphone hydrochloride and acetaminophen)
The attorney's handling the suit alleges that the companies have known their opioid products are "too addictive and too debilitating for long-term use for chronic non-cancer pain lasting three months or longer." They argue that the effectiveness of the medication wanes with prolonged use and that controlled studies only focused on short-term use to mask the longer term adverse outcomes. The companies are accused of spreading misinformation regarding the drugs' safety despite this knowledge to the contrary.
The lawsuit says, "Defendants successfully created that false perception through a coordinated, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign that began in the late 1990's, became more aggressive in or about 2006 and continues to the present." The suit claims these companies did this by sponsoring certification courses for doctors where they were taught misinformation about the benefits of the medications.
Several doctors are also named in the suit for their roles and being on these companies' payrolls.
Perry Fine, M.D., of Utah
Scott Fishman, M.D., of California
Randall Brewer, M.D., of Shreveport
Lynn Webster, M.D., of Utah
The suit goes on to cite figures such as in 2012 alone, opioids generated $8 billion in profits for drug companies, $3.1 billion of that sum went straight to Purdue for their OxyContin. The figures have been growing since 1999 but there has been no change in a number of pain Americans report, according to the suit. Other notable figures in the suit are 71% of accidental deaths in the parish in 2016 alone included opioids and around 80% of inmates in the parish jail are substance abusers, mostly addicted to opioid pain medications.
The end goal of the lawsuit is to recuperate city money because the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office had to spend "significant sums that would not have otherwise been spent in its efforts to combat the public nuisance" that was created by the companies deceptive marketing tactics. The suit is seeking restitution, damages, "disgorgement," civil penalties, attorney's fees, costs and expenses, injunction relief and any other costs which are a result of the defendants.
Tips? Info? Send me a message!