City Files Opioid Lawsuit -- WSJ

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (January 24, 2018).

New York City has filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, accusing the companies of oversupplying the market and misrepresenting the safety of the drugs, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

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The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, seeks half a billion dollars that city officials say they need to fight the opioid epidemic.

"More New Yorkers have died from opioid overdoses than car crashes and homicides combined in recent years," Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit."

Five opioid manufacturers and their subsidiaries, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Endo International, as well as distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., were named in the lawsuit.

New York City's move follows a wave of similar lawsuits brought by 15 states and about 300 other cities and counties in the U.S.

The companies have denied the allegations and said they are committed to working with communities to stem opioid abuse.

Purdue reiterated Tuesday that it is "deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid-abuse crisis, and are dedicated to being part of the solution."

Endo said it has stopped promoting and developing opioids, and eliminated its product sales force, as well as withdrawing its drug Opana at the request of the Food and Drug Administration.

McKesson said it reports hundreds of thousands of suspicious orders to federal authorities each year and that "this complicated, multi-faceted public-health crisis cannot be solved by any one participant," but needs to come from a comprehensive approach involving everyone from doctors to insurance companies to distributors and manufacturers.

More than 1,000 people in New York City died in a drug overdose which involved an opioid during 2016, city officials said. Costs to the city have included those related to treatment, hospitals, criminal justice and law enforcement, officials said.

Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty percent of opioid overdoses in 2016 involved a prescription opioid, the CDC said.

Earlier this week, Kentucky filed a lawsuit against McKesson, claiming the distributor flooded the state with opioids, including the generic versions of oxycodone and hydrocodone. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, also sued Endo last year.

Delaware sued manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies in state court there on Friday, saying the volume of opioids shipped to Delaware annually amounts to more than 50 opioid pills for each resident.

Hundreds of the suits filed in federal court have been consolidated in front of U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Ohio. Judge Polster is pushing for early settlement talks and has encouraged state attorneys general that have filed suits to attend a meeting in his court at the end of the month.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican who filed one of the first major opioid cases this past summer, has said he has begun settlement talks with some opioid manufacturers.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 24, 2018 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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