The state of Kentucky on Wednesday sued [complaint, PDF] several opioid manufacturers alleging that they “trivialized, mischaracterized, and failed to disclose” the “serious risk of addiction” inherent in the use of the high strength pain killers. The state claims that including Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals [corporate websites] “undermined evidence that opioids are addictive by suggesting or stating that the risk of addiction is limited to high-risk patients.” The complaint also contains snippets of materials that were used as guides for patients, where manufacturers stated that the opioids were “rarely addictive when used properly.”
The complaint also alleges that manufacturers “overstated the benefits of chronic opioid therapy while failing to disclose the lack of evidence supporting long-term use.” Kentucky is seeking civil penalties as well as damages for the public nuisance and punitive damages.
Kentucky is the latest state to sue opioid manufacturers in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic [JURIST op-ed] which has led to opioid-related fatalities becoming the leading cause of accidental death in that state. Manufacturers and distributors of opiod drugs are facing numerous legal challenges, including those brought by Alabama, Chicago, Michigan, Ohio and the Navajo Nation [JURIST reports]