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Chester County, Pennsylvania files a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Chester County, Pennsylvania’s, District Attorney’s Office has filed a civil lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors for their part in deceptively marketing opioids, contributing to the subsequent epidemic. The civil suit, filed under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, seeks a permanent injunction to end deceptive business practices and provide relief for those affected by the crisis.
For Americans under fifty years of age, the leading cause of death is from drug overdose. In 2018, Pennsylvania had the third highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. The Chester County Coroner’s Office reported 112 accidental overdose deaths in 2018, a 22 percent drop from 2017, analyzing the last year of available data and prior. State statistics also show, between 1999 and 2017, in Pennsylvania alone, an estimated 26,300 people died from opioids, more than from car accidents and homicides combined.
“The loss and devastation resulting from addiction has plagued our community for years,” said Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan. “We will hold the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors named in this lawsuit accountable for the irreparable damage their greed has caused to our residents and our institutions. It is unconscionable that their bottom line was more important to them than the impact their actions had on families and society.”
According to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), more than “101 million prescription opioids were shipped to Chester County between 2006 and 2014.” Chester County’s deaths from opioids more than doubled between 2015, with 68 deaths, and 2017, overdoses increased to 144. In 2019, 104 deaths were opioid-related and there were 51 deaths documented in the first half of 2020.
“The District Attorney’s Office has the unique power to take public enforcement action against any individual or business that engages in deceptive practices in connection with consumer transactions – in this instance, the pharmaceutical firms who manufactured, marketed and distributed opioids,” Ryan said. “This ability allows the District Attorney to pursue a suit on behalf of individuals, businesses and government entities in Chester County affected by the opioid crisis.”
The civil suit is seeking “the restoration of all money the defendants obtained in the county as a result of the excessive opioid sales” in addition to civil penalties of up to $3,000 per violation. The manufacturer defendants named in the suit are Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdie Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Par Pharmaceutical, Inc.; Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc., Allergan PLC; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc., Mallinckrodt PLC; SpecGX LLC, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. The distributors named in the civil suit are McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmerisourceBergen. Ahmad Zaffrese LLC is representing the Chester County DA.
The civil suit follows Pennsylvania’s Opioid Command Center’s announcement of a new strategic plan, which provides a roadmap for the continued work to help those with opioid use disorder (OUD).
“By leveraging the diverse strengths and skillsets brought together through the Opioid Command Center, we have been able to make great strides in saving lives and reducing negative outcomes for those suffering with a substance use disorder,” state Governor Tom Wof said. “I offer my thanks to everyone involved in these crucial efforts.”