The city of Los Angeles is taking legal aim at opioid drug manufacturers and distributors alleging “negligent and fraudulent business practices” that helped popularize addictive painkillers like oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl.
City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Wednesday (May 3), that his office has filed lawsuits against six drug makers including Purdue Pharma L.P., Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cephalon, Inc., Insys Therapeutics, Inc., and Mallinckrodt LLC. The suit alleges that the companies used “false and deceptive” tactics to “normalize aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs for various kinds of pain.”
Three of major opioid wholesalers, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corporation, are also included in the suit.
“The scourge of prescription drug addiction has made a significant impact on Los Angeles residents and created a continued public nuisance in our City,” said Feuer. “Manufacturers and distributors of these highly addictive and potentially fatal drugs must be held accountable for driving the opioid epidemic and the significant impacts of their reckless and irresponsible business practices.”
Though Los Angeles hasn’t been as hart hit by the opioid epidemic, Feurer vowed during a press conference that he would not let the city turn the likes of “West Virginia or Ohio when it comes to the devastating effects of the opioid crisis,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
The suit demands that drug makers and wholesalers pay costs, losses and damages, and seeks to discourage the companies from more “false marketing.” Additionally, the legal complaint enjoins companies to take further action to correct the “impact of their prior conduct.”
More than 23 million Californians were prescribed opioids in 2016, while 2,031 death have been attributed to overdoses, according to the California Department of Public Health. Los Angeles County boasts 4.6 million prescriptions and over 350 opioid related overdoses.
It is estimated that 56 percent of patients taking long-term prescription opioids and painkillers will become addicted.