South Carolina and the cities of Birmingham, Alabama and Cincinnati, Ohio have become the latest state and cities to file opioid drug lawsuits. The city lawsuits allege that opioid manufacturers flooded states and municipalities with suspiciously large orders of drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Birmingham and Cincinnati have filed suit against McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corp. The cities allege that the distributors and manufacturers illegally sold the drugs into the areas. The Birmingham suit alleges that the sales caused a “foreseeable, widespread diversion of prescription opioids into the illicit market.” The cities are seeking damages to cover the cost of addiction recovery and other programs. An award could be tripled if the companies are convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). That law is used typically in organized crime prosecutions.
The basis of the suit filed by South Carolina is somewhat different. That suit, filed against Purdue Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of OxyContin, claims that deceptive marketing practices. The state alleges that Purdue misled doctors and others by downplaying the addictive nature of opioids and criticizing newer drugs that are less addictive.
South Carolina is the sixth state to file an opioid drug lawsuit. The others are New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma and Mississippi. Other counties and cities that have filed opioid drug lawsuits include several in Ohio and West Virginia and Multnomah County, Oregon.
The opioid crisis has been termed a “national emergency” and deaths have doubled since 2000, according to Reuters. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine describes a worsening epidemic of addiction to drugs like oxycodone and illegal drugs like heroin.
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