US states seek $26.4 billion from major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors to settle opioid litigation

pharmafile | August 19, 2020 | News story | Research and Development opioid crisis, opioid epidemic, opioids 

Multiple Attorney Generals from across the US are seeking billions of dollars in damages to settle opioid cases against major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. 

This amounts to the states seeking a collective $21.14 billion from opioid distributors including Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp and AmerisourceBergen. They are also seeking $5.28 billion from Johnson and Johnson. 

The lawsuits allege that the drugmakers overstated the benefits of taking opioids while downplaying the risks and addictive qualities, while distributors failed to stop a rise in suspicious orders. All the companies involved declined to comment. 

This follows separate charges New York State filed earlier in the week against Teva and Allergan. The lawsuit accused the companies of insurance fraud and for downplaying the risks of their opioid painkillers to both doctors and patients. Both companies deny the charges. 

New York State also says Teva made 20% of all opioids distributed from 2006 to 2014 in the region and marketed its products for off-label uses. It also helped draft letters to allow doctors to prescribe more of its drugs, and accused Allergan of misrepresenting the safety of its opioids, despite a 2010 FDA warning over its painkiller Kadian. 

This is the third year of a probe into companies who sell opioids by New York’s Department of Financial Services, which started with charges against Endo International and Mallinckrodt. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “New York will continue to aggressively investigate the bad actors that caused the opioid crisis, an American tragedy that has taken too many lives and caused irrevocable harm to communities in our state and across the country.

“Everyone who has been affected by opioids deserves justice and we will make every effort to deliver it to them by pursuing the companies that defraud the public and holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that opioids have contributed to more than 400,000 deaths since 1997. 

Conor Kavanagh

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