WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) — Several counties in Illinois are suing drug companies and physicians over the consequences of excessive opioid use.
DuPage, Kane, Will, Lake and McHenry counties said Thursday that aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioid painkillers is causing a drug epidemic.
“For more than 20 years the defendants developed and executed a coordinated, sophisticated and highly-deceptive marketing campaign for opioid drugs that harkens back the deceptive and illegal practices the tobacco industry used,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.
The complaints allege Big Farmer created drug addicts that have cost billions in healthcare, incarceration, treatment, toxicology tests and autopsies. Plus it destroyed families.
“They know it’s an addiction that you cannot save yourself from,” said Will County’s State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow.
The complaints in Illinois State Court seek millions of dollars to reimburse county governments for the costs of responding to the crisis, including money spent dealing with drug-related crimes.
Similar lawsuits have been filed around the U.S. and companies being sued have said they’re already taking steps to curb opioid abuse.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has said that opioids contributed to nearly 1,200 overdose deaths in Illinois in 2016.
CBS 2 reached out to Purdue Pharma for a statement:
“We are deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis, and are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge. Although our products account for approximately 2 percent of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed three of the first four FDA-approved opioid medications with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone. We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.
“Unlike the past tobacco litigation, our medicines are approved by FDA, prescribed by doctors, and dispensed by pharmacists, as treatments for patients suffering from severe pain.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)