Opioid users are pushing back against the manufacturers of the powerful and highly addictive painkillers, suing Actavis, Endo, Johnson & Johnson, Purdue, Teva and others in Arkansas federal court, claiming the drug companies were more focused on making profits than on public health, Law360 reports. They say the opioid makers encouraged doctors to prescribe the drugs while downplaying the addiction and dependence risks associated with use, which in turn contributed to the national opioid epidemic.
The same drug companies are currently under investigation by several attorneys general representing states across the country. They also face similar probes with counties and cities including New York’s Suffolk County and Chicago.
The potential class action was filed by Michael Ray Lewis of Arkansas, who says he became addicted to opioids after being prescribed the drug in 2005. Opioids include the powerful prescription painkillers Oxycodone, Percocet and hydrocodone. Lewis claims opioid makers launched marketing campaigns and hired independent marketers to push the benefits of the painkillers to doctors without disclosing the serious risks associated with them.
Collectively in 2014, the drug companies named in the lawsuit spent at least $14 million to advertise their opioids in medical journals and more than $160 million to educate doctors about the drugs. Some of the efforts included paying doctors to serve as consultants on advisory boards, which gave other physicians the impression that the medications were safe, the complaint states.
The proposed class action would include individuals who, while in Arkansas, were prescribed opioids manufactured by the drug companies named in the lawsuit from June 30, 2012, through June 30, 2017. The first class involves people who overdosed on the painkillers and needed medical attention or needed addiction treatment. The second class is for those who were simply prescribed the drug.