Multiple Small Illinois Towns File Lawsuit Against Drug Company
Nearly a dozen Illinois towns, including the Village of Melrose Park, Village of Bellwood, Village of Berkeley, City of Berwyn, City of Chicago Heights, Village of Hillside, City of Northlake, Village of Oak Lawn, City of Pekin, Village of River Forest, and Village of Tinley Park recently filed a lawsuit against pain medication manufacturer Purdue Pharma for its involvement in the nationwide opioid crisis. The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and indicated the plaintiffs “bring this Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial to obtain redress in the form of monetary and injunctive relief from the Defendants named herein for their role in the opioid epidemic that has caused widespread harm and injuries to Plaintiffs’ communities.”
The complaint further alleged, “Prescription opioids are devastating communities across the country and in the State of Illinois. Since 1999, there have been more than 351,000 reported opioid-related deaths nationwide—more than 6 times the number of U.S. soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. Today, an American dies from an opioid overdose every 19 minutes and more than 60% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States involve an opioid…In addition to the tragic loss of life and the heartbreaking impact on children and loved ones, some estimates state that the opioid crisis is costing governmental entities and private companies as much as $500 billion per year…This epidemic and its consequences could and should have been avoided.”
The towns have claimed, however, that Purdue and other “opioid manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and local prescribers— intentionally and negligently created conditions that allowed vast quantities of opioids flow freely to patients Plaintiffs’ communities who should have never obtained them. Instead of truthfully and safely marketing their products, Defendants blindly stoked the engine of opioid prescribing to obtain untold profits from their sales…The crux of Defendants’ deceptive conduct involved a years’ long campaign to misrepresent the risks of and shift public opinion on, the use of prescription opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain. Defendant manufacturers purposefully and aggressively marketed opioid products for unapproved uses, buried unfavorable research, and employed a network of phony front groups, opinion leaders, and sales representatives to expand the market for opioids and obtain massive profits.”
In February of this year, Purdue ran full-page ad campaigns across major print and digital platforms announcing the company had made the opioids it manufactures more difficult to abuse. The ads also detailed its efforts to work on manufacturing non-opioid pain medications.
However, many said it was too little too late. “It strikes me as very hypocritical that these companies that have made billions off selling opioids and have been involved in the overmarketing of these drugs for years now say they want to be part of the solution,” said Dr. Jeff Gordon, the former president of the Connecticut State Medical Society in response. “However, if they are being serious, I welcome them now coming on board. But one has to be very realistic about what their past is.”
Also mentioned in the complaint filed by the towns, Illinois Municipalities Opioids Complaint – Filed 5.23.18, are many other pharmaceutical companies, including Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Allergan, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Johnson & Johnson, and Mallinckrodt, as well as distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., all of which have been the subject of controversy in many other complaints. Court documents state, “opioid use can readily lead to addiction, misuse, dependence, and abuse” and calls the current situation in the U.S., “the worst drug crisis in American history.” The Illinois towns are demanding a trial to help combat the crisis.