NYC Slaps Big Pharma With $500M Lawsuit Over Opioid Crisis

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

New York City joined a national wave of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers Tuesday, demanding that Big Pharma pay $500 million to combat the opioid crisis, which many believe they started.

NYC is one of hundreds of municipalities across the country to file similar lawsuits, which have been combined into a multi-district litigation, New York Law Journal reported Tuesday. It’s likely that NYC’s suit will be combined into the group litigation. Mayor Bill de Blasio decried Big Pharma as the source of the nation’s opioid crisis in a news conference. More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than in the entirety of the Vietnam War.

“More New Yorkers have died from opioid overdoses than car crashes and homicides combined in recent years,” de Blasio said. “Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit.”

The group litigation targets Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, their parent companies and subsidiaries, along with a number of doctors operating in Oswego County, Wis.

Lawsuits argue that these companies used “nefarious” marketing and promotion to get doctors to over-prescribe opioids to their patients resulting in their addictions. Opioids made up 66 percent of all drug overdoses in 2016, claiming 42,249 lives. This is a nearly 30 percent increase over the 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.

Pharmaceutical companies have previously denied any claims of wrongdoing, but say they are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic. (RELATED: Hospitals Join Lawsuit Against Opioid Makers)

“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution,” a spokesman for Purdue Pharma previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to a lawsuit filed by the attorney general of New Jersey. “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”

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