WILMINGTON — New Hanover County has filed a lawsuit against five of the largest manufacturers and distributers of prescription opioids.
According to Jessica Loeper communications and outreach coordinator, “The lawsuit holds five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids and their related companies, and the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors, accountable for failing to do what they were charged with under the federal Controlled Substances Act: monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.”
From 1999 – 2016 more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses and New Hanover County has been one of the hardest hit areas in the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in the county exceeded the total county population with 1.3 prescriptions issued for every county resident.
The lawsuit names the following companies as defendants: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LTD.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Noramco Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLS; Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. n/k/a Actavis Inc.; Watson Laboratories Inc.; Actavis LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma Inc.; Mallinckrodt plc; Mallinckrodt LLC; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation.
“The residents of New Hanover County are bearing the burden of the cost of the epidemic, as the costs of treatment for addiction, education and law enforcement continue to rise,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White. “New Hanover County has taken the formal action of suing the companies that are responsible for this destruction. The 120+ page filed lawsuit goes line by line, and specifically describes the laws that were violated, and the devastation that has taken place. New Hanover County aims to have this suit accomplish two things: require the responsible parties to pay our taxpayers for the monetary damages caused, and to force them to follow federal law so we can stem the tide of this horrible epidemic, and help save lives.”
According to the lawsuit, one of the complaints includes, “Plaintiff brings this civil action to eliminate the hazard to public health and safety caused by the opioid epidemic, to abate the nuisance caused thereby and to recoup monies spent because of Defendants’ false, deceptive and unfair marketing and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioids.”