Hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama are suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, claiming the companies deceptively marketed and sold opioids.
The Clarion Ledger reports the class-action federal lawsuit was filed Nov. 30 in Mississippi by Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb, Mississippi; Infirmary Health Hospitals, Inc., based in Mobile, Alabama; and Monroe County Healthcare Authority, based in Monroeville, Alabama.
The lawsuit says hospitals have faced expenses for treating opioid addicts because companies “pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction.”
The hospitals claim monetary losses as damages, saying they never would have had contact with these patients, and the patients would not have opioid conditions, “but for the opioid epidemic created and engineered by Defendants.”
Purdue Pharma makes OxyContin, the pill receiving the most claims of deceptive marketing. Purdue said in a statement that it denies the lawsuit’s allegations and the company is working to solve the opioid public health crisis.
Another defendant, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., said in a statement it provides resources to doctors, pharmacists and patients about responsible pain management and is working to develop non-opioid chronic pain treatment.
A representative from another defendant, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, said the lawsuits are “legally and factually unfounded” and that the company has acted in the best interest of patients, including warning labels on each product.
Another defendant – Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. – also denied the allegations and said it has ceased opioid promotion.
Don Barrett, an attorney from Lexington, Mississippi, is representing Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center. In the 1990s, Barrett worked on the tobacco lawsuits that yielded billions of dollars in damages for the state.
“Hospitals are the front-line troops in the opioid battle,” Barrett told the newspaper. “Hospitals have lost billions treating opioid-related medical problems. Yet they have been thus far ignored. America’s hospitals will be ignored no longer.”
Barrett said the class-action lawsuit represents all U.S. hospitals that have treated patients with health issues related to the use of opioids.