Philadelphia files lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers

- The city of Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers alleging their sales and marketing tactics are ‘directly linked’ to the opioid epidemic plaguing the city.

"The epidemic currently plaguing the City has exacted a grim toll on Philadelphia residents and their families," Mayor Kenney said Wednesday, "And the cause can be directly linked to the methods used by manufacturers to market and sell their products to doctors and the public. Those tactics have to end."

The lawsuit seeks to end deceptive marketing practices, as looks to force manufacturers to pay the costs of treatment for city residents suffering from opioid addiction. The lawsuit also aims to recover the costs the city has incurred responding to the epidemic in recent years.

The costs mentioned include funding first responders who treat opioids, funding public health and human service programs to treat addicted residents, and increased resources to fund Philadelphia’s criminal justice and prison systems.

Allergan/Actavis, Cephalon and Teva, Endo, Janssen and Johnson & Johnson, and Purdue are among the opioid manufacturers named in the lawsuit. 

The defendants named manufacture OxyContin, Percocet and other painkillers. The companies have said in similar lawsuits they don't believe litigation is the answer, but have pledged to help solve the crisis.

The City's Health Department estimates that one in three adults in Philadelphia has received a prescription for opioids in the past 12 months and one in seven, or 168,000, are currently taking these drugs. 

While the final tally of fatal overdoses in the city is not yet complete, the city believes the total will reach approximately 1,200 which would be a one-third increase over 2016.

In 2016 Philadelphia suffered a rate of overdose deaths per-capita that was fourth highest in the nation and higher than any other large city.

"The opioid crisis is the largest public health crisis this city has seen in a century, and it has been fueled by drug companies", said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner for Philadelphia.  "It's well past time for those companies to stop pushing these drugs and start helping us cope with the human tragedy they have caused."

The city alleges overwhelming scientific evidence has demonstrated that the marketing of opioids to treat chronic pain has been the principal causative factor driving the opioid addiction.

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