Opioid Wars: The State Courts Strike Back

Prescription opioids and syringe

Illegal and prescription opiate abuse is now an epidemic in the United States. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported nearly 1,400 Illinois residents died from an opioid overdose in 2015 alone. The situation has become so serious that state courts across the nation have begun to hold the companies that profit from the disaster responsible.

Illinois Has Filed Suit Against Opioid Manufacturer Insys Therapeutics

Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, filed such a lawsuit last year. The suit alleges that Insys Therapeutics pushed doctors to prescribe an opiate based pain medication beyond its intended use. Madigan argues that the drug, Subsys, meant for cancer patients pain management, was being marketed and sold in large quantities for the treatment of other sources of pain, which interferes with the prescription writing process.

Insys has reportedly set aside $4.5 million in preparation of settlement, while their profits from the drug were nearly $12 million between 2012 and 2015. This is not the first suit of its kind and it will not be the last. New Hampshire, along with several other states and municipalities, are suing opiate drug manufacturers for downplaying the risk of addiction and failing to report suspicious prescribers. 

It is important to remember that this epidemic is ongoing, with no end in sight. Always talk to your doctor about the history and dangers of any prescribed medication. If you or a loved one suffers from an opiate addiction, seek help immediately. 

Other Opioid Lawsuits Around the Country

Arizona Drug Company May Pay Illinois $4.5 Million Over Opioid Lawsuit

Chicago Tribune (8/4, Schencker, 1.85M). “An Arizona drug company is preparing to spend as much as $4.5 million to potentially settle a lawsuit brought against it by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleging the company pushed doctors to prescribe its opioid painkiller beyond its intended use. The potential settlement comes as states and municipalities increasingly are suing opioid drugmakers for allegedly helping to propel the nation’s opioid epidemic. Nearly 1,400 Illinois residents died of overdoses from all types of opioids in 2015, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

DEA suggests reducing production of some opioids. Reuters (8/4, Grover) reports the Drug Enforcement Administration proposed on Friday a 20 percent manufacturing reduction next year of certain commonly prescribed opioids and other controlled substances. The proposal comes amid attempts by regulators and lawmakers to limit opioid supplies. It also follows the Food and Drug Administration’s request that Endo International Plc withdrawsits opioid painkiller from the market.

New Hampshire Files Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma Over Deceptive Marketing of Oxycodone

The AP (8/8, Ramer) reports New Hampshire has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma claiming the company “has continued its deceptive marketing of OxyContin [oxycodone]” in the state. The lawsuit claims the company misrepresented the drug’s effectiveness and the risk of addiction.

Reuters (8/8, Raymond) reports the lawsuit claims that the company’s marketing practices “opened the floodgates” to opioids being abused in the state. The article notes that New Hampshire is among a growing number of states, counties, and cities that have filed lawsuits against Purdue and other drug companies that manufacture opioids.