New Mexico filed a lawsuit [press release and complaint, PDF] Thursday against big opioid producing pharmaceutical companies, alleging the corporations are responsible for the Opioid Epidemic flooding the state and specifically small rural communities. Filed in the First Judicial District Court for Santa Fe County [official website], the lawsuit claims that major opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson and Johnson, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Actavis [corporate websites], falsely represented and downplayed the highly addictive nature of the pain killers to Doctors. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas [official website] described the nature of the lawsuit:
The manufacturing companies pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction, while the distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids.
Balderas initiated the lawsuit in an attempt to further New Mexico’s effort to combat the opioid crisis through Project OPEN (Opioid Prevention & Education Network). The 132-page complaint calls out the relationship between prescription pain-killers and heroin overdoses, stating: “The CDC has identified addiction to prescription pain medication as the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction. People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to be addicted to heroin.” This lawsuit makes New Mexico the eighth state to sue these major pharmaceutical manufacturers for the opioid crisis facing America. New Mexico’s Mora County and Bernalillo County are currently in litigation [AP report] against opioid manufacturers, “seeking changes in marketing and prescription practices as well as cash to help cover costs.”
This lawsuit is one of many efforts among state and federal government entities to fight the opioid crisis throughout the country. In July President Donald Trump’s White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued [JURIST op-ed] its interim report calling for the President to immediately declare a national state of emergency in response to an epidemic that is devastating individuals and communities across the country. In June Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against opioid manufacturers accusing [JURIST report] them of violating consumer protection laws by deliberately and carefully crafting a “campaign of deception.” Also in June Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed [JURIST report] suit [complaint, PDF] against five major drug manufacturers for misleading marketing practices that led to a painkiller epidemic in the state.