John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Newtown Township Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Newtown Township Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

At the December 12, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor of authorizing Marc J. Bern Partners, LLP, & Cordisco & Saile, LLC to file suit against the manufacturers, promoters, and distributors of synthetic prescription Opioid medications on behalf of Newtown Township.

The Complaint was filed in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas on April 24, 2019 (Docket NO. 2019-03043). It names a total of eighteen defendants (15 manufacturers and 3 distributors):

  1. Purdue Pharma L.P.
  2. Purdue Pharma Inc.
  3. The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.
  4. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  5. Cephalon, Inc.
  6. Johnson & Johnson
  7. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  8. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  9. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  10. Endo Health Solutions Inc.
  11. Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  12. Allergan Plc (formerly known as Actavis Plc)
  13. Allergan Finance, LLC (formerly known as Actavis, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  14. Watson Laboratories, Inc.
  15. Actavis LLC (Actavis Pharma, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharma, Inc.)
  16. Mckesson Corporation (distributor)
  17. Cardinal Health, Inc. (distributor)
  18. Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation (distributor)

The Township is seeking judgment on each of six "causes of action" against the defendants in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), jointly and severally. The total damages claimed are estimated to add up to just under $4 million!

NOTE: Newtown Township will NOT incur any expenses related to this suit and it will NOT be charged any attorney fees for filing the action no matter what the outcome. The law firms will work on a 25% contingency basis, meaning that 25% of any fees awarded to Newtown will be retained by the law firms and 75% - potentially (if the case is 100% successful) $3 million – will go to Newtown.
Six “Causes of Action”

The six causes of action are:

  1. Unfair Trade Practices. Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law because they engaged in deceptive acts or practices.

  2. Fraud. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents.

  3. Unjust Enrichment. As an expected and intended result of their conscious wrongdoing Defendants have profited and benefited from the health insurance coverage purchased by Plaintiff that directly funded the opioid purchases made by its residents and employees.

  4. Negligence. Distributor Defendants have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the distribution of opioids, as provided by state and federal law, to avoid, prevent, or attenuate third-party misconduct. Distributor Defendants breached this duty by failing to take any action to prevent or reduce the distribution of opioids, as required by state and federal law, and instead participated in and enabled Defendants' misconduct. As a proximate result, Distributor Defendants and its agents have caused Plaintiff to incur excessive costs related to diagnosis, treatment, and cure of addiction or risk of addiction to opioids, the Township has borne the massive costs of these illnesses and conditions by having to provide necessary resources for care, treatment facilities, law enforcement services, and child and family services for Township Residents and using Township resources in relation to opioid use and abuse. Additionally, the Township has suffered lost productivity from its workforce, thereby losing much needed tax revenue.

  5. Negligent Misrepresentation. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume opioids.

  6. Public Nuisance. Defendants made unreasonable and/or unlawful use of their financial resources in an improper, indecent, and unwarranted fashion to wage a massive campaign of misrepresentations and omissions of facts, negligence, and violation of state laws material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume lawful opioids for unlawful purposes.
Questionable Practices

The suit lists a number of “unlawful” or “deceptive” marketing and patient and physician educational practices of the defendants to bolster the Township’s case, including:

  • Like the tobacco companies that engaged in an industry-wide effort to misrepresent the safety and risks of smoking, Defendants worked with each other and with the industry-funded and directed Front Groups and KOLs [Key Opinion Leaders; mostly physicians] to carry out a common scheme to deceptively market opioids by misrepresenting the risks, benefits, and superior efficacy of opioids to treat chronic pain. [Read “Opioids Are the New Tobacco: Investigations of #Pharma Companies Taking Page from Tobacco Settlement of the 90's”]

  • Marketing dangerous and ineffective opioid drugs as safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic pain conditions in order to deceive physicians into prescribing addictive opioids to residents of Newtown Township;

  • Disseminating misleading statements concealing the true risk of addiction and promoting the deceptive concept of pseudoaddiction through Defendants' own unbranded publications and on internet sites Defendants operated that were marketed to and accessible by consumers in Newtown Township;
Purdue frequently cited a 1980 item in the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine, J. Porter & H. Jick, Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics, 302 (2) New Eng. J. Med. 123 (1980), in a manner that makes it appear that the item reported the results of a peer reviewed study. Defendants, through the KOLs acting on their behalf, failed to reveal that this "article" was actually a letter-to-the-editor, not a study, much less a peer-reviewed study.
  • Sponsoring, directly distributing, and assisting in the distribution of publications that presented an unbalanced treatment of the long-term and dose dependent risks of opioids versus NSAIDs;

  • Developing and disseminating misleading scientific studies that deceptively concluded opioids are safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic non-cancer pain and that opioids improve quality of life, while concealing contrary data;

  • Holding themselves out as law-abiding distributors but instead withholding from law enforcement the names of prescribers they knew to be facilitating the diversion and over-prescribing of their products, while simultaneously marketing opioids to these doctors by disseminating patient and prescriber education materials and advertisements and CMEs that Defendants knew would reach these same prescribers, violating Pennsylvania and Federal law by not reporting these doctors instead. [Read “How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids”]

The 107-page Complaint lists many more questionable practices and includes dozens of references to support the claims. Download it here.

Further Reading

Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids

Pennsylvania's Treasurer Says Big Pharma Must be Held Accountable for Its Role in Opioid Crisis

Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies

Newtown Township Joins Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Opioid Lawsuit Survey Comments


Posted on 30 Apr 2019, 12:42 - Category: Opioid Epidemic

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