Hernando County files lawsuit to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors responsible for creating opioid epidemic
Consortium of national law firms to lead litigation against drug companies, alleging costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement connected to pervasive opioid abuse.
Hernando County announces that it has filed suit against the nation’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in creating a widespread diversion of prescription opiates for nonmedical purposes. The case was filed on June 6, 2019 in federal district court in the United States District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division (Hernando County, FL v. Purdue Pharma L.P.; et al: Case 8:19-cv-01388).
Hernando County has struggled to manage the costs associated with the rising rate of opioid abuse. Drug poisoning and opioid related deaths have significantly impacted the Hernando County community in recent years. Increased criminal activity is also associated with the diversion of opioids, causing a budgetary impact upon law enforcement expenses.
The effects of opioid abuse have created other major public health concerns in Hernando County. Opioid abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality are hazards to public health and safety in the County, and constitute a public nuisance, which remains unabated.
“Holding these companies accountable for their actions is a big step in the battle of this opioid epidemic,” said Deputy County Attorney Jon Jouben. “We cannot simply sit back and let the greed of these drug companies continue to devastate our communities. Our team is doing what we can to put a stop to this crisis.”
The Hernando County suit alleges that many of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids and deliberately misinformed doctors by claiming that patients using the drugs rarely experienced addiction. The companies named in the suit include: Purdue Pharma; Teva Ltd. (which acquired pharmaceutical maker Cephalon, Inc. in 2011); Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson); Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Allergan PLC; Mallinckrodt; and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. Drugs manufactured by these companies include, but are not limited to: OxyContin, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Nucynta, Nucynta ER, Opana/Opana ER, Percodan, Percocet, Zydone, Kadian and Norco.
The suit also alleges that three of the nation’s largest drug distributors – Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. – failed to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the suit names the nation’s largest Retail Pharmacies – CVS, Walgreens and Walmart – for their role in failing to report suspicious opioid orders.
Hernando County has hired a team of expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; McHugh Fuller Law; Powell & Majestro, PLLC; and the Law Offices of Lucas & Magazine.
“The death toll from overdoses rises every day. Overdoses are at an epidemic level across the country. Florida is only one state being ravaged by this atrocity. These companies knew what they were doing, they knew the effects of these drugs and they failed to notify the public. Taxpayers should not be held responsible for fixing a problem they did not create. We are calling out these companies and holding them responsible.” said Jouben.