Eighteen Connecticut municipalities filed a lawsuit Tuesday against several large pharmaceutical companies for allegedly concealing the risk of opioid addiction from the public.
“By virtue of their deceptive and fraudulent marketing campaign, defendants have given rise to a drug epidemic the likes of which the Connecticut municipalities, the state of Connecticut, and the nation have never before seen, resulting in substantial economic harm to plaintiffs,” the complaint alleges.
The Waterbury Superior Court lawsuit comes on the heels of separate cases filed by New Haven, New Britain and Waterbury for the companies’ alleged role in the prescription drug crisis. The defendants include Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and subsidiaries.
Tuesday’s complaint was filed by Jim Hartley of Drubner, Hartley & Hellman, who also represents Waterbury, where his office is located. Also on the case is New York lawyer Paul Hanly of Simmons Hanly Conroy, who is co-lead counsel for about 180 government plaintiffs suing Big Pharma in multidistrict litigation consolidated in Ohio.
The judge there ordered the attorneys Tuesday to hold talks to find a way to settle the litigation, which includes nearly 200 plaintiffs.
Hartley and Hanly did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Their clients in this lawsuit are Bridgeport, Naugatuck, Southbury, Woodbury, Fairfield, Beacon Falls, Milford, Oxford, West Haven, North Haven, Thomaston, Torrington, Bristol, East Hartford, Southington, Newtown, Shelton and Tolland.
The 89-page complaint includes claims of violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, public nuisance, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, innocent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
Connecticut had the 12th-highest number of opioid deaths in the country as of 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Endo Health denies the allegations and intends to vigorously defend the case, the company said in a statement. The company has voluntarily stopped promoting opioids, eliminated its entire product salesforce and withdrew the drug Opana ER from the market.
“Endo is dedicated to providing safe, quality products to patients in need and we share the public concern regarding opioid abuse and misuse,” the statement said. “We are committed to working collaboratively to develop and implement a comprehensive solution to the opioid crisis, which is a complex problem with several causes that are difficult to disentangle.”
Teva said it is developing non-opioid treatments for choronic pain.
“Teva is committed to the appropriate use of opioid medicines, and we recognize the critical public health issues impacting communities across the U.S. as a result of illegal drug use as well as the misuse and abuse of opioids that are available legally by prescription,” a company statement said. “To that end, we take a multi-faceted approach to this complex issue; we work to educate communities and health care providers on appropriate medicine use and prescribing, we comply closely with all relevant federal and state regulations regarding these medicines.”
The other defendants did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
The Scott + Scott firm represents New Haven and New Britain in their separate litigation.