The irony of a state’s government suing the federal government over what they claim is big pharma “[deliberately] pushing consumer use of opioid painkillers, creating addicts and driving up its cost” (for the painkillers) is well, more than ironic. It shows a lack of insight, lack of ethics and lack of perception on the part of all involved. It also shows just how bad prescription pain killer abuse and addiction has become in the U.S.
Chicago’s Lawsuit Against Drug Companies Reveals a City Devastated by Addiction to Opioids
Attorneys representing Chicago in the case of the City of Chicage v. Purdue Pharma LP., 2014-L-005854, Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court, Law Division (Chicago) have issued the following statement:
“Since 2007, the city has paid for nearly 400,000 claims for opioid prescription fills, costing nearly $9,500,000, and suffered additional damages for the costs of providing and using opiates long-term to treat chronic non-cancer pain,” lawyers for the municipality claimed in a state court complaint filed yesterday in Chicago (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-03/chicago-sues-drug-companies-for…).
According to Section 12 of the complaint filed recently by the city of Chicago, the defendents–Purdue Pharma; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries; Cephalon, Inc.;, Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc; Endo Health Solutions, Inc. and Actavis PLC–“engaged in a campaign of deception that”:
- Misinterpreted the effectiveness of pain killers (opioids)
- Obscured or “trivialized” the adverse outcomes and serious risks involved with opioid pain medication
- Overstated the efficacy of pharmaceutical pain killers compared to other forms of treatment
- encouraged doctors, employees and front groups (known to the industry as “Key Opinion Leaders” to advertise and publish misleading, biased studies as well as promotional materials that deceived people into thinking pharmaceutical pain killers could be “safely and effectively used”
Legally, Chicago’s attorneys are suing these drug companies on the basis that they committed civil conspiracy, violated city laws and acted fraudently in promoting their products.The amount sought in damages has not yet been specified.
Why Chicago’s Lawsuit Against Drug Companies Won’t Change Anything
Penalities incurred by big pharma companies when they are caught engaging in criminal actions (releasing medications without sufficient testing, for example) are insufficient and have little effect monetarily on these companies. In addition, so-called “clinical” studies performed on pharmaceuticals by scientists working for drug makers regularly published skewed statistical results and promotional rather than educational information to downplay the adverse affects associated with long-term use of opioids–especially the high risk of addiction.
According to Section 240 of Chicago v. Purdue Pharma, the defendents “…monitored their sales and the habits of prescribing doctors, which allowed them to see sales balloon, overall, in individual practices, and for specific indications”. Attorneys go on to say that the defendant accessed and watched “data that tracked the explosive rise in opioid addiction, injury and death. They knew and intended their misrepresentations would persuade doctors to prescribe [their opioids] and payers to cover pain killers for chronic pain” (http://www.fdanews.com/ext/resources/files/06/06-03-14-Chicago.pdf),
Big Pharma Responsible for Rising Rates of Heroin Addiction?
Chicago, Florida, New York City and Tennessee are just a few places in the U.S. suffering rapidly rising heroin addiction rates.In fact, self-reported heroin use has doubled over the past five years (from 370,000+ to 669,000 individuals), with over 75 percent of those using heroin stating that they had previously abused prescription pain killers (www.npr.org/2013/11/02/242594489/with-rise-of-painkiller-abuse-a-closer-…).
Staying Free of the Dangerous Web Spun by Big Pharmas
City governments that are now financially overwhelmed with heroin addicts are frantically asking for more funding from the federal government. But will providing money to fund detox programs really help as long as pharmaceutical companies and physicians continue prescribing opioids for pain?
Of course it won’t. Moreover, the lawsuit filed by Chicago against several, billion dollar pharmaceutical companies will either languish in the courts for ten years or simply be dropped because of its complexity.