Dutchess County is looking to fight back against the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the county.
County Executive Marc Molinaro announced Wednesday the county has filed a lawsuit against 11 pharmaceutical companies, alleging aggressive and fraudulent marketing of painkillers. The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.
“The opioid and heroin epidemic is the public health crisis of our lifetime and Dutchess County has lost far too many lives to this scourge," Molinaro said. “It is time drug companies acknowledge the devastating damage, take responsibility for their deceptive marketing practices, and be held accountable for misrepresenting the dangers of these addictive painkillers.”
The county, represented by Simmons Hanly Conroy is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the tax dollars spent dealing with the opioid crisis.
The county claims the pharmaceutical companies misrepresented the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use by claiming they were safe to treat chronic pain. According to the county, opiod drugs are ineffective to treat chronic pain and can make things worse.
According to the New York State Department of Health there were 805 opiod-related related emergency department admissions in Dutchess in 2014. From 2003-2014, 256 Dutchess County residents died.
The companies being sued are Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; as well as physicians Russell Portenoy, Perry Fine, Scott Fishman and Lynn Webster, who were instrumental in promoting opioids for sale and distribution nationally, including in Dutchess, the county said.
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