New York City has added the CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid as defendants in its lawsuit previously filed. Besides Purdue Pharma LP, the list of defendants named in NYC’s suit includes long-time opioid manufacturers Allergan Plc, Endo International Plc, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp. The City is seeking $500 million.
The New York City Law Department added the popular nationwide drugstore chains CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid as defendants in its lawsuit previously filed specifically against opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging fraudulent business practices. The Sackler family, owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP, are also listed as a defendant.
NYC first filed its lawsuit against opioid drug makers and distributors in state Supreme Court in Manhattan earlier this month, alleging that manufacturers overstated the benefits of opioids and did not properly disclose the significant risk of addiction. The City also said distributors fueled abuse through oversupplying the market, turning their heads to suspicious orders rather than reporting them and, therefore, contributing to an illegal secondary market. The lawsuit also claims the Sacklers personally made efforts to downplay the addictiveness of OxyContin and that board members engaged in a sales strategy to get patients to use increase use.
The Sackler family’s name has been an institution of sorts in NYC. The name adorns a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institute for developmental psychobiology at Columbia University and a laboratory at the American Natural History Museum. In 2007, Purdue Pharma LP and three of its top executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges involving deceiving patients, physicians, and regulators about the dangers of OxyContin and they agreed to pay more than $630 million in fines. Therefore, NYC believes the well-known family shown have known better.
“It is important to note that the Sacklers personally derived billions of dollars of profits from Purdue Pharma’s sale of opioids since the 1980s,” said city Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter. “No one is named merely because of his or her status as shareholder, limited partner, member of a limited liability company, or beneficiary of a trust.”
“The Sacklers, through their business dealings and ownership of Purdue, have manufactured, promoted and recklessly marketed opioids by omitting critical information that could have saved thousands of lives, communities and families if known sooner,” added Paul Hanly Jr., a shareholder of Simmons Hanly Conroy who represents the city and other governments that are suing over the opioid epidemic.
The filing states, “At all relevant times, the Sackler Families jointly managed and controlled all of the associated companies that the two families owned. Each of the Purdue-related individuals and entities named herein as Additional Defendants knowingly aided, abetted, participated in, and benefitted from the wrongdoing of Purdue as alleged in the Complaint; none is named merely because of his, her, or its status as a shareholder, limited partner, member of a limited liability company, or beneficiary of a trust.”
Besides Purdue Pharma LP, the list of defendants named in NYC’s suit includes long-time opioid manufacturers Allergan Plc, Endo International Plc, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp. The City is seeking $500 million to offset a portion of the increased medical and law enforcement costs it has incurred to address the crisis, in addition to addiction treatment costs.