SB County Joins Ranks Suing Pharmaceutical Companies Over Opioid Crisis

San Bernardino County yesterday joined with more than 200 cities and counties throughout the country and filed what is essentially a cloned lawsuit suing 24 pharmaceutical companies and ten retail drug distributors and pharmacies, citing “aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioid painkillers and distribution practices.”
The county is represented in the lawsuit by the New York City-based law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy, along with Wisconsin-based Crueger Dickinson LLC.
The suit maintains that the pharmaceutical companies, physicians prescribing opioids indiscriminately and retailers including pharmacies, drug stores and general merchandisers failed to maintain effective controls over the distribution of prescription opioids and actively sought to evade reasonable controls on the prescribing and dispensing of the drugs.
Lodged in federal court, the suit seeks relief associated with costs the county is bearing in fighting the opioid crisis. The problems besetting the county have been brought on by “the drug companies’ deceptive marketing campaign that misrepresents the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use,” according to the suit, which maintains that 35 fatalities from opioid use occurred in San Bernardino County last year. Moreover, according to county officials, in 2017, at least 259 people visited emergency rooms in the county with non-heroin opioid overdoses and another 179 were hospitalized for opioid overdoses. Nearly 1.5 million prescriptions were written last year for opioid medications. County officials say those have contributed to addiction and have increased drug-related or drug-induced crimes or public health issues like Hepatitis C and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
With other offices in San Francsisco, Chicago, St. Louis, El Segundo as well as Alton, Illinois, Simmons Hanly Conroy has with Crueger Dickinson filed what are nearly indistinguishable lawsuits against the same defendants on behalf of New York City; the State of New York’s Dutchess, Broome, Erie, Orange, Oswego, Schenectady, Seneca, Sullivan and Ulster counties; San Juan County, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties in Illinois; Adams, Columbia, Door, Douglas, Eau Claire, Florence, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oconto, Oneida, Pierce, Price, Rock, Rusk, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, Washburn, Washington, Waupaca Brown, Crawford, Iron, Juneau, Kewaunee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Portage, Racine, Richland Winnebago and Wood counties in Wisconsin; Washington, Calcasieu, Ouachita, Sabine and Vernon parishes in Louisiana; Adair, Adams, Audubon, Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Cedar, Clay, Clayton, Clinton, Dallas, Delaware, Fayette, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Johnson, Lee, Mahaska, Marion, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, O’Brien, Plymouth, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac, Scott, Shelby, Sioux, Taylor and Winneshiek counties in Iowa; the municipalities of Bridgeport, Naugatuck, Southbury, Fairfield, Beacon Falls, Milford, Oxford, West Haven, Noth Haven, Thomaston, Torrington, Bristol, East Hartford, Southington, Newtown, Shelton and Tolland in Connecticut; Dauphin County in Pennsylvania and Riverside County in California, among others.
“The county and our residents are being severely affected by the opioid crisis,” said San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert Lovingood, who added that through the filing of the lawsuit, “our county joins hundreds of counties across the United States in an important effort to hold these companies responsible for their role in creating the opioid epidemic.”
“Together, with Simmons Hanly Conroy, we will work to hold the defendants responsible and to secure help for the residents of San Bernardino County recovering from opioid addiction,” Erin Dickerson, a lawyer with Crueger Dickinson LLC, said.
The defendants in the lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Noramco, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLC; Allergan Finance LLC, f/k/a Actavis, Inc., f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis, LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma Inc.; Insys Therapeutics, Inc.; Mallinckrodt PLC; Mallinckrodt LLC; Cardinal Health Inc.; McKesson Corporation; AmerisourceBergen Corporation; CVS Health Corporation; The Kroger Co.; Rite Aid of Maryland, Inc. D/B/A RiteAid Mid-Atlantic Customer Support Center, Inc.; Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. A/K/A Walgreen Co.; Wal-Mart Inc. F/K/A Walmart Stores, Inc.; H.D. Smith, LLC d/b/a HD Smith, f/k/a H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., H.D. Smith Holdings, LLC, H.D. Smith Holding Company; and Miami-Luken, Inc.
The suit also alleges that physicians Russell Portenoy, Perry Fine, Scott Fishman and Lynn Webster have been instrumental in promoting opioids for sale and distribution nationally.

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