LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed a civil lawsuit against six leading opioid drug manufacturers as well as three wholesale distributors alleging fraudulent and negligent business practices that have contributed to the opioid addiction crisis and its impact on Los Angeles.
"The scourge of prescription drug addiction has made a significant impact on Los Angeles residents and created a continued public nuisance in our City," said Feuer. "Manufacturers and distributors of these highly addictive and potentially fatal drugs must be held accountable for driving the opioid epidemic and the significant impacts of their reckless and irresponsible business practices."
The lawsuit names major opioid drug manufacturing companies including Purdue Pharma L.P., Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cephalon, Inc., Insys Therapeutics, Inc., and Mallinckrodt LLC alleging the companies used false and deceptive business practices in order to normalize aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs for various kinds of pain. The companies allegedly intentionally mislead doctors and patients about the appropriate uses, risks, safety and efficacy of their products including downplaying the high risk of addiction and exaggerating the benefits of continual use for chronic pain.
Also included in the lawsuit are major opioid drug wholesalers working as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies including McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corporation. The lawsuit alleges these companies routinely failed in their obligation to report suspicious orders and sales of large and frequent orders of prescription pain pills as required by state and federal law. As a result of this alleged willful negligence, addiction and overdose rates in Los Angeles were allowed to rise.
The suit seeks to enjoin the defendants from further false marketing and require they take affirmative action to correct the impact of their prior conduct. The lawsuit also seeks to enjoin the defendants from maintaining the public nuisance of contributing to and perpetuating opioid addiction and to pay costs, losses and damages as a result of their conduct.
Prescription opioids include brand name pain medications OxyContin, Opana, Subsys, Fentora and Duragesic as well as generics such as oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl. It is estimated that up to 56% of patients receiving long-term prescription opioid painkillers will become addicted and one in five people who take an opioid for over ten days will still be taking painkillers a year later.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 23.6 million Californians were prescribed opioids in 2016 and 2,031 deaths occurred as a result of overdoses; including 4.6 million prescriptions and 353 opioid related overdose deaths in Los Angeles County. Prescription opioid overdose-related hospitalizations, drug treatment and hospital emergency room visits in Los Angeles County have also steadily risen over the years.