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Thousands of US cities and counties in federal opioid lawsuit file for class status

Posted/updated on: June 14, 2019 at 7:12 pm
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iStock/WoodysPhotos(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of U.S. counties, cities and villages filed for class action status in a massive, multi-district litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies on Friday.

New York's Albany County and New Jersey's Bergen County, as well as Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Phoenix are just a handful of the approximately 1,800 municipalities already involved in the massive litigation against central figures and companies responsible for the national opioid crisis.

The federal bundle of cases accuses opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, of aggressively marketing the drugs while misleading doctors and the public about how addictive they are.

They also accuse distributors, like McKesson, of moving huge quantities of the painkillers without alerting authorities, and accuse pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens of selling large amounts of the pills to patients.

Thousands of U.S. counties, cities and villages filed for class action status in a massive, multi-district litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies on Friday.

New York's Albany County and New Jersey's Bergen County, as well as Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Phoenix are just a handful of the approximately 1,800 municipalities already involved in the massive litigation against central figures and companies responsible for the national opioid crisis.

The federal bundle of cases accuses opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, of aggressively marketing the drugs while misleading doctors and the public about how addictive they are.

They also accuse distributors, like McKesson, of moving huge quantities of the painkillers without alerting authorities, and accuse pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens of selling large amounts of the pills to patients.

It could be a step to resolve the case, because companies often prefer to settle all potential suits through class action, according to Carroll.

In fact,the judge appointed to oversee the case, Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the North District of Ohio, has already preemptively urged both sides toward a settlement.

In a statement to ABC News, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma said: "The company is committed to working with all parties toward a resolution that helps bring needed solutions to communities and states to address this public health crisis. We continue to work collaboratively within the MDL process outlined by Judge Polster."

Johnson & Johnson declined to comment on filing for class status.

McKesson, CVS Health and Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hanly said there is no settlement amount attached to the class ruling but that a potential settlement in the case could be more than $100 billion.

"Sometimes defendants like to enter into class settlements because it offers more closure," Carroll said.

An average of 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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