Suit Blames Drug Makers, Providers for Opioid Crisis

Companies accused of false marketing, failure to report high sales

Kevin Killeen
August 02, 2018 - 1:58 pm
Prescription pain RX medication pills spilled out of an amber pharmacy medicine bottle on a pharmacy counter

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Jefferson County and nine other Missouri counties along with the city of Joplin are suing the makers and providers of prescription painkillers for the opiod crisis.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleges that drug manufacturers, pharmacies and prescription benefit managers are to blame for addictions, overdose deaths and ruined lives.

"It is as if these companies created a toxic waste dump in the middle of the county and then just walked away from it as it burns and pollutes the community," said plaintiff's attorney Jack Garvey.

Kevin Killeen/KMOX

The suit seeks damages to cover the cost borne by police, family protective services and treatment facilities.

Garvey says the companies are liable in two ways: Falsely marketing the prescription painkillers as safe and non-addictive; and failing to report to federal authorities the large amount of opiods surging into public use.

"Under the law, Missouri law and federal law, all of those parties have a duty to report what they call 'suspicous orders of Schedule Two Narcotics,' which are opiods," Garvey said. "Meaning, if they notice -- coming out of their factory, their plant, their pharmacy -- a high amount of drugs, they have to report it."

The suit names some 50 defendants, including Express Scripts, Walgreens, CVS, Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical.

In similar lawsuits filed earlier, the companies have denied they are responsible for the opiod epidemic.