A proposed class action claims 14 pharmaceutical companies' and wholesale distributors' allegedly deceptive marketing of opioids has led to what public health officials are calling 'the worse drug crisis in American history.'
A proposed class action has been filed in Arizona against 14 pharmaceutical companies and wholesale distributors. Filed by the National Roofers Union & Employers Joint Health & Welfare Fund, the RICO lawsuit claims the defendants’ deceptive marketing of opioids has led to what public health officials are calling “the worse drug crisis in American history.”
According to the lawsuit, the defendants launched an aggressive marketing scheme to convince health care providers to begin prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain—a use that historically had been advised against due to the drugs’ highly addictive nature. The companies aimed to “shift the way in which doctors and patients think” by inundating them with deceptive marketing materials and the financially incentivized opinions of physicians, trade associations, and third-party foundations, the suit says, which magnified the benefits of opioids while brushing off the associated risks. From the complaint:
“The Manufacturing Defendants’ intention was to normalize aggressive prescribing of opioids for various kinds of pain by downplaying the very real risks of opioids, especially the risk of addiction, and by exaggerating the benefits of use. To accomplish this goal, they intentionally misled doctors and patients about the appropriate uses, risks, safety and efficacy of prescription opioids. They did so directly through sales representatives and marketing materials and indirectly through financial relationships with academic physicians, professional societies, hospitals, trade associations for state medical boards and seemingly neutral third-party foundations.”
Moving on to the distributor defendants, the lawsuit claims these wholesale companies failed their duty to monitor the opioid supply chain and allowed the drugs to flow freely to addicts across the nation, “causing sales and overdose rates to soar.”