Chicago Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Painkiller Makers

June 3, 2014 — The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against several major pharmaceutical companies for concealing risks associated with painkillers, including Oxycontin, Percocet, and several generic drugs.

The lawsuit accuses drug-makers of knowingly and aggressively marketing painkillers as rarely addictive, while touting benefits that lacked scientific support in order to boost profits.

Lawyers allege the companies spent millions of dollars to encourage doctors and front groups to promote the drugs, calling their efforts “wildly successful.”

The city seeks to recover damages for the $9.5 million it spent to fill 400,000 prescriptions since 2007, as well as compensatory damages, penalties, and legal costs. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel blames drug-makers for an epidemic of abuse, addiction, and overdose. In a statement issued by the Mayor’s Press Office, he said:

“For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line. This has led to a dramatic rise in drug addiction, overdose and diversion in communities across the nation, and Chicago is not immune to this epidemic.”

Firms named in the lawsuit include:

  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Actavis
  • Endo Health Solutions Inc.
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc.

In 2007, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, agreed to pay $634 million to resolve civil and criminal charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Prosecutors accused Purdue of misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the potential risk of addiction and abuse.

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