20 Minnesota Counties Are Suing Big Pharma Over Alleged ‘Fraudulent Marketing’ Of Painkillers

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A number of localities across Minnesota are joining together to sue drug manufacturers for their alleged “widespread and deeply deceptive marketing” of opioid painkillers.

Attorneys from 20 Minnesota counties announced the upcoming filings Thursday, which will seek to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the public cost of the opioid epidemic to local governments. Officials claim that drug makers and their distributors violated state and federal laws by downplaying the risks of addiction and abuse from their medications in pursuit of “outrageous profits,” reports MPR News.

Opioid overdose deaths are rising in the state, claiming 395 lives in 2016. It is not yet clear which pharmaceutical companies and distributors will be targeted in the lawsuits.

“We’ve had enough of the fraudulent marketing and negligent distribution of opioids, and all of us have had enough of the devastation that’s been perpetrated on our communities,” Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said at a press conference Thursday, according to MPR News. “We’ve got ourselves a public health epidemic. There’s more than a correlation that when the opioid marketing went up … so did the heroin epidemic.”

Lawsuits are mounting against the largest drug makers in the country for their alleged complicity in sparking the opioid crisis through dishonest advertising. There are currently more than 75 cities and states suing pharmaceutical companies over the destructive addiction crisis.

The pharmaceutical companies deny wrongdoing and say they are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic.

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse released Sept. 7 predicts the addiction epidemic in America will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.

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