Attorneys for three Utah counties and a team of private law firms have filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors on behalf of the Uintah, Duchesne, and Daggett Counties, and the TriCounty Health Department.
The complaint was filed in Utah’s Eighth Judicial District Court for Uintah County, at the Uintah County Courthouse in Vernal.
The 243-page complaint states that the opioid crisis was created by misinformation, false claims, and marketing, generated by the manufacturers and distributors of the drugs.
They allege beginning in the 1990s, opioid manufacturers lied to both doctors and the public about the serious risks associated with long-term use of these drugs – one of the most critical risks being an addiction.
Meanwhile, they say, opioid distributors injected millions upon millions of opioid pills into small communities, like the communities in Uintah, Duchesne, and Daggett Counties, who are now left to cope with the human and financial consequences.
The human and financial consequences, they say, include child neglect, infants born with drug dependence, the estrangement of families, lost careers, or crime.
Defendants include the major manufacturers and distributors of opioids in the United States, Purdue Pharma L.P.; Endo Pharmaceuticals; Allergan; Teva; Cephalon, Janssen; AmerisourceBergen; Cardinal Health; and McKesson. These companies market branded opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Fentora, and generic opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
John Parker, senior vice president at Healthcare Distribution Alliance, released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders. Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated. Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation.”