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New York City Sues Drug Companies Over Opioid Crisis

25 January 2018

Though New York City is now the largest municipality to sue "big pharma", it joins hundreds of cities, counties and even states in attempting to hold these companies accountable for the nationwide opioid epidemic.

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The complaint, City of NY v Purdue Pharma LP et al, said the opioid crisis has had a serious impact on NYC, with the number of overdose deaths increasing in each of the last six years.

The suit alleges that manufacturers and distributors created a false perception that "using opioids to treat chronic pain was safe for most patients and that the drugs' benefits outweighed the risks", and that this was achieved through deceptive marketing and promotion which began in the late 1990s, became more aggressive around 2006 and "continue today". That in turn placed a burden on the city for increased substance use treatment services, ambulatory services, emergency department services, inpatient hospital services, medical examiner costs, criminal justice costs and law enforcement costs.

In addition to Allergan Plc., other manufactures included are: Endo International Plc., Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma LP and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Officials said the places have been previously warned they need to provide information about their policies to be receive grants.

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The lawsuit charges these companies and others with being a 'public nuisance, ' acted negligently in their distribution of opioids and 'were unjustly enriched at the City's expense'.

"We are deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis and are dedicated to being part of the solution", Purdue Pharma spokesperson John Puskar said, adding "We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense".

The success of that settlement - the largest civil litigation settlement in US history - may suggest some optimism in the efforts of cities and states to target pharmaceutical companies.

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Allergan also sought to put its role into context.

New York City Sues Drug Companies Over Opioid Crisis