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Baltimore Becomes The Latest Major City To Sue Big Pharma Over The Opioid Crisis

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Another major city launched a lawsuit against manufacturers of opioid painkillers, alleging drug companies were knowingly “reckless” in their pursuit of profits.

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis announced the lawsuit Wednesday targeting a number of drug makers including Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals, as well as drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. Davis alleges the drug makers poured money into research that gave a false perception of the risks associated with long-term opioid use, knowing it would have a “destructive” impact on public health, reports The Baltimore Sun.

The lawsuit accuses drug distributors of failing to report suspicious pill orders to pharmacies in the city. The city wants the pharmaceutical industry on the hook for the rising public costs of fighting the overdose epidemic.

“They were reckless, they were intentional, it was marketing, it was greed,” Davis said in the announcement Wednesday.

The action comes on the heels of lawsuits filed by New York City last week and Philadelphia on Jan. 17 against the major opioid drug makers and distributors in the country.

Pharmaceutical companies have previously denied any claims of wrongdoing and say they are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic.

“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.”

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.

Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing 63,600 people in 2016. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives last year, a 28 percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015, according to data released Dec. 21 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opioid overdose made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer.

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