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Detroit and other Michigan municipalities file suits against opioid manufacturers
Detroit and other Michigan municipalities file suits against opioid manufacturers

The city of Detroit filed suit [complaint, PDF] on Monday in the United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan [official site] against a number of pharmaceutical companies in relation to the distribution of prescription opioid drugs.

Following the lead of other states [JURIST report] and municipalities [JURIST report], the 153-page complaint alleges that numerous manufactures and distributors of opioids, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, McKesson, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Costco, have ignored the dangerous effects of the drugs in favor of profit.

The opioid epidemic has led to carnage and devastation—including the loss of over 33,000 lives annually, the destruction of countless families and homes, and the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of addicts who have turned to crime in order to support their chemical addictions. The United States comprises less than 5% of the world’s population, but consumes over 80% of the world’s opioid products.

The lawsuit contends that these companies “aggressively over-promoted highly addictive, dangerous opioid products”, convincing doctors and the general public that opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, are a relatively safe daily treatment for chronic pain.

Detroit claims that the companies have created a public nuisance, violated relevant negligence standards, as well as engaging in a pattern of racketeering sufficient to invoke the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act [text] (RICO). The city is seeking both injunctive and monetary relief.

The Sam Bernstein Law Firm PLLC [official site] and Weitz and Luxembourg P.C. [official site] are currently representing Detroit in the matter. Since Detroit filed its claim yesterday, seven other Michigan municipalities have filed lawsuit of their own including the city of Lansing [claim, PDF].