Palm Beach County in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday against major corporations alleging some of their business practices led to the rise of the opioid crisis.
The county in the lawsuit accuses corporations like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens for using “unfair” marketing techniques to “reverse” common understanding of opioids, which led more people to be prescribed them, reported The Palm Beach Post.
“Defendants, through a sophisticated, highly deceptive and unfair marketing campaign that began in the late 1990s, deepened around 2006, and continues to the present, set out to, and did, reverse the popular and medical understanding of opioids,” the complaint alleges. “Chronic opioid therapy—the prescribing of opioids to treat chronic pain long-term—is now commonplace.”
The opioid crisis has spiked over the past few years and Palm Beach County has been particularly affected by the crisis. A November 2017 report named the county as the “epicenter” of the crisis in the state as there were 571 heroin overdoses in the county in 2016.
“The thousands of Palm Beach County families struck by this epidemic deserve to hold someone accountable for deceptive, unscrupulous practices involving opioid dispensing, advertising and prescribing,” Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay, a Democrat, noted in a statement about the lawsuit.
A total of 29 defendants are named in the lawsuit. The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a national trade association of which one defendant is a member of, released a statement pushing back against the lawsuit and its accusations.
“Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated. Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation,” John Parker, SVP, Healthcare Distribution Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Walmart, CVS and Walgreens did not return request for comment in time for publication.
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