Missouri Latest State to Sue Opioid Manufacturers

Alicia Ault

June 22, 2017

Missouri has become the third state to sue opioid manufacturers, claiming the drug companies defrauded consumers.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley filed a civil lawsuit on June 21 in the Circuit Court of St. Louis City. The state is seeking compensation from Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging that the opioid manufacturers misrepresented the risks posed by their products.

The suit alleges that "this opioid epidemic is the direct result of a carefully crafted campaign of deception carried out by Defendants."

Ohio and Mississippi have filed similar suits, as have two California counties, the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and Dayton, Ohio, three Tennessee district attorneys, and nine New York counties.

"Our state faces an urgent public health crisis brought on by fraud," said Hawley in a press release. "These companies have profited from the suffering of Missourians," he said.

Missouri, like Ohio, has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic. Overall, the opioid death rate in the state was 9.3 per 100,000, but in some counties, it was as high as 42 per 100,000.

The Ohio suit named Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, its subsidiary Cephalon, and Allergan, in addition to Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen.

Mississippi, which named those same manufacturers in a suit filed in December 2015, enlisted the help of private plaintiff attorneys, some of whom worked on the big class action suits brought against tobacco manufacturers, which were eventually settled in a master action in 1998.

Ohio is also using private plaintiff lawyers in its suit, but Missouri is not.

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