Illinois County Sues Opioid Makers

July 10, 2017

A southwest Illinois county is suing pharmaceutical companies, alleging the prescription painkiller epidemic is worse due to deceptive marketing.

The Jersey County lawsuit was filed against the makers of opioids, including OxyContin, Dilaudid, Opana, Percocet and others, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. This is at least the second opioid lawsuit to be filed by an Illinois county this year. St. Clair County filed their lawsuit in April.

St. Clair County’s suit claims Purdue Pharma and other companies misrepresented opioids’ risk addiction, that withdrawal from opioids can be “easily managed” and more.

“These drug companies have raked in billions of dollars by deceitful advertising and fraudulent conduct that has brought misery and heartbreak to our community,” Jersey County State’s Attorney Ben Goetten said.

In response to the St. Clair County lawsuit, Purdue Pharma, a privately held pharmaceutical company, told the newspaper that it’s committed to working with the county on a solution for the “opioid crisis.”

“OxyContin accounts for only 2 percent of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology and advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs,” Purdue Pharma said.

The suit alleges that drug companies funded “key opinion leaders” to give deceptive talks and show false studies about the drugs to doctors, professional societies and patient groups.

Callis claimed the companies paid and directed advocacy groups to develop painkiller guidelines, which the companies distributed.

It seeks $50,000 for every violation of the Illinois Fraud Act, an extra $10,000 per violation of the Act for people 65 and older, and attorney fees.

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