By Steve Birr
Two hospitals in Alabama are joining a class-action lawsuit with Mississippi against opioid manufactures for allegedly knowingly spreading addiction “for their own corporate profit.”
Alabama’s Monroe County Healthcare Authority and Infirmary Health Hospitals Inc. filed the lawsuit Thursday along with hospitals in Mississippi, targeting 20 companies, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The lawsuit claims the pharmaceutical powerhouses “aggressively pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids,” through fraudulent marketing campaigns that downplayed risks of abuse and addiction to both doctors and patients, reports AL.com.
Attorney John Barrett is spearheading the litigation for the hospitals, a lawyer known for his successful efforts against tobacco companies in the 1990s. The filing alleges that opioid makers, “turned patients into drug addicts for their own corporate profit.”
“Hospitals are the front-line troops in the opioid battle,” Barrett said in an email Thursday to Clarion Ledger. “Hospitals have lost billions treating opioid-related medical problems. Yet they have been thus far ignored. America’s hospitals will be ignored no longer.”
Pharmaceutical companies have previously vehemently denied any claims of wrongdoing and say they are committed to working with the government to solve the opioid epidemic.
“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution,” a spokesman for Purdue Pharma previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to a lawsuit filed by the attorney general of New Jersey. “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
In statements to the Clarion Ledger Johnson & Johnson, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals also disputed the charges and reiterated their commitment to helping mitigate the opioid abuse crisis.
Lawsuits are mounting against the largest drug makers in the country for their alleged complicity in sparking the opioid crisis through dishonest advertising. There are currently more than 75 cities and states suing pharmaceutical companies over the destructive addiction crisis.
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse released Sept. 7 predicts the addiction epidemic in America will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.