The City of Chicago and two California counties, Orange and Santa Clara, are filing two separate product liability lawsuits that claim five drug companies used aggressive marketing tactics which ignored the dangerous, addictive side effects of opiod pain killers.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company (Duragesic), Purdue Pharma (OxyContin), Actavis (Kadian), Endo Health Solutions Inc. (Percocet, Opana), and Cephalon, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals (Actiq, Fentora) are among the five companies being sued for wrongful marketing and misrepresentation of their products.
The lawsuits claim that these medical companies are responsible for putting profits before patients by providing doctors and patients with false information, which ultimately ended in addiction and wrongful death.
Just in 2007, Purdue was ordered by federal and state courts in a product liability suit to pay $655 million in settlements and wrongful death compensation after falsely branding its drug, OxyContin as having a low addiction rate. Even though it ceased production of the original formula, and created a new one, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) still deemed it to be possibly addictive.
The lawsuits claim that the drug manufacturers used aggressive tactics to make sure doctors prescribed the drugs for more than recommended use. After reviewing internal documents from these companies, the City of Chicago found that they had been funding patient information groups, and had bribed the American Pain Foundation to downplay the addictive effects of the painkillers, by presenting false messages to consumers, such as “opiods are rarely addictive when used properly for the management of chronic pain.”
Tony Rackauckas, district attorney for Orange County, says the main goal of the lawsuit is “to require these companies to change their conduct and to tell people- to tell the doctors, to tell the patients- tell them that these drugs are dangerous. Tell them they are addictive, and you could overdose on them, and you could die.”
Product liability attorneys across the country are comparing this lawsuit to cases against the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Many argue that the lawsuits have little chance of holding up in court, because whilst the tobacco industry had very little regulation at the time, the pharmaceutical drug industry has high amounts of regulation.
At this time, only Endo Health Solutions, Inc., and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have released a statement. “We’re currently reviewing the complaint. Janssen is committed to ethical business practices and responsible promotion, prescribing and use of all our medications,” says Janssen spokeswoman Robyn Reed Frenze. Actavis, Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceuticals have yet to comment.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of addiction or wrongful death due to opiod painkillers, Hodes Milman Liebeck can provide you with the assistance you need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.