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Big Pharma Is Drowning In Lawsuits As US Addiction Crisis Worsens

REUTERS/George Frey

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter

Connecticut is joining the growing body of states suing the major drug makers in America for igniting the opioid epidemic through fraudulent practices.

Officials from seven municipalities in the state joined with the city of Waterbury on Thursday to file a lawsuit against four pharmaceutical companies seeking damages for the havoc created in the state by painkillers. A report from the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says opioid deaths are on pace to rise again in 2017, estimated to claim 1,000 lives by the end of the year, reports Hartford Courant.

The lawsuit so far includes Bristol, Bridgeport, New Milford, Naugatuck, Oxford, Wolcott and Roxbury. Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said Thursday he expects an additional 15 to 20 towns in the state to join the legal effort. (RELATED: How One Painkiller Ignited The Addiction Epidemic)

“We’re all dealing with this opioid crisis, epidemic – it’s absolutely having devastating impacts on every city and town in the state of Connecticut and across the country,” O’Leary said Thursday, according to Hartford Courant.

The lawsuit targets Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Johnson & Johnson and Endo Health Solutions, along with a number of subsidiaries. They allege that pharmaceutical companies knowingly marketed false information on their drugs, leading unsuspecting users down the hole of addiction.

“While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share local officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions,” a representative for Purdue Pharma said in a statement to the Hartford Courant.

Lawsuits are mounting against the largest drug makers in the country for their alleged complicity in sparking the opioid crisis through dishonest advertising. The law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is spearheading cases in New York, as well as two lawsuits in California, two in West Virginia, one in Chicago and one in Washington state.

An Illinois county hit hard by the opioid crisis launched a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry July 1. This is the second lawsuit leveled against major drug makers by officials in Illinois, adding to more than 25 civil cases that have already been filed this year against the top pharmaceutical companies and their distributors.

Brendan Kelly, the state attorney for St. Clair County, Ill., filed a 159-page lawsuit April 20 against Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories, also accusing the company of consumer fraud and profiting off deception.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said June 6 that drug deaths in the U.S. experienced the largest increase in recorded history in 2016, claiming more than 60,000 lives. He notes that data suggests deaths from opioids and other drugs will continue to increase in 2017.

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