Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania has unleashed a barrage of lawsuits aimed squarely at the drug manufacturers it says have claimed 231 lives in the community since 2014. “Lackawanna County’s commitment to fight the war against drug companies who fueled (the) opioid crisis begins today,” declared County Commissioner Patrick O’ Malley. “The line has been drawn. It’s Lackawanna County versus the pharmaceutical companies.”
The list of defendants in the lawsuits is a “who’s who” of the nation’s main drug producers. That list includes: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.; Cephalon Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Allergan PLC; Actavis Inc.; Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Corporation.
The lawsuits are filed based on claims that these companies either lied about or failed to accurately represent the degree to which their opioid medications were addictive, yet were aware of the addictive nature of the drugs all along.
Lackawanna County was the second county in Pennsylvania to file this kind of lawsuit, however, the idea of municipalities suing opioid manufacturers and distributors over the impacts their products have had on their communities is nothing new. Delaware County, near Philadelphia, was the first Pennsylvania County to sue. Beaver County just filed a Complaint making it the third.
McKesson Corporation (also named above in the Lackawanna County lawsuit) was recently sued by the Attorney General of West Virginia once state officials did the math and realized that McKesson was flooding the state with opioids. In fact, once the numbers were fully tallied, it became apparent that a state with a population of less than 2 million citizens had received close to 100 million doses of pills. Some counties in West Virginia received enough shipments of powerful opioid painkillers to supply every man, woman, and child in residence with some 280 pills each.
West Virginia contends that McKesson only acted (albeit too late) to stem the flow of opioids into the state once it had settled two other cases with the federal government over its complacency – or outright participation – in the same thing happening in other municipalities.
As such, and when combined with the latest action from Lackawanna County, it would appear that “please do not flood our communities with highly addictive and extraordinarily powerful painkillers” is a request that these companies simply are not inclined to fulfill, even in the face of the havoc their products wreak on towns, cities, and families all across the country every single day.