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Opioid Epidemic in Kentucky Home Rule Cities Class Action

The opioid crisis is at the heart of this class action, brought by a number of Kentucky home rule cities against pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, and retail pharmacies, including Abbott Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., Allergan, plc, CVS Health Corporation, Rite Aid Corporation, and Walmart, Inc. The complaint alleges that the companies engaged in a conspiracy for the marketing, promotion, distribution, and sale of opioids that led to an epidemic of addictions in Kentucky.

The class for this action is all Kentucky Home Rule cities with populations of less than four thousand people.

The plaintiffs in this case are a group of cities, including Russell, Jenkins, Pineville, Worthington, Vanceburg, Greeup, South Shore, and Bellfonte. The complaint begins by providing some statistics about opioids and the state: “The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions … rose steadily from 1.0 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1999 to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017.” Also, “Kentucky has double the overdose rate of the national average. Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death in Kentucky.”

The complaint points to the connection between opioid prescriptions and a progress to illicit drugs, “with approximately 75% of heroin users reporting that their initial drug use was through prescription.”

The drug manufacturers spread false and deceptive statements about the drugs, the complaint alleges, “grossly understating and misstating the dangerous addiction risks” and “grossly overstating the benefits” of opioids. The complaint offers details of marketing and efforts at persuading doctors to give patients opioids more frequently. According to the complaint they targeted “susceptible” prescribers and vulnerable types of patients.

Distributors of drugs like opioids are required to be licensed and to prevent drugs like opioids from being diverted to illegal uses. The complaint alleges that wholesalers had the duty “to monitor, detect, and halt orders that did not comply with Kentucky law” and to otherwise prevent the diversion of the drugs in their charge. It claims they did not fulfill these legal duties but pretended to comply.

Finally, the retail companies also had a duty to prevent the illegal diversion of opioids, the complaint says, but their “focus on quantity, versus quality, led to a steep and unfettered increase in the flow of opioids throughout” Kentucky. For example, they “failed to analyze … the number of opioid prescriptions filled by individual pharmacies relative to the population of the pharmacy’s community[.]” A record of enforcement actions against them shows that companies like CVS and Walgreens have paid millions in settlements and penalties relating to opioids.

The complaint details a number of separate claims against the various defendant companies‚ including negligence, negligence per se, negligent misrepresentation, public nuisance, consumer protection, and fraud by omission. However, it also claims that the marketing and supply companies formed a civil conspiracy to spread opioid use.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Conspiracy

Most Recent Case Event

Opioid Epidemic in Kentucky Home Rule Cities Complaint

July 23, 2021

The opioid crisis is at the heart of this class action, brought by a number of Kentucky home rule cities against pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, and retail pharmacies, including Abbott Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., Allergan, plc, CVS Health Corporation, Rite Aid Corporation, and Walmart, Inc. The complaint alleges that the companies engaged in a conspiracy for the marketing, promotion, distribution, and sale of opioids that led to an epidemic of addictions in Kentucky.

Opioid Epidemic in Kentucky Home Rule Cities Complaint

Case Event History

Opioid Epidemic in Kentucky Home Rule Cities Complaint

July 23, 2021

The opioid crisis is at the heart of this class action, brought by a number of Kentucky home rule cities against pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, and retail pharmacies, including Abbott Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., Allergan, plc, CVS Health Corporation, Rite Aid Corporation, and Walmart, Inc. The complaint alleges that the companies engaged in a conspiracy for the marketing, promotion, distribution, and sale of opioids that led to an epidemic of addictions in Kentucky.

Opioid Epidemic in Kentucky Home Rule Cities Complaint
Tags: Civil Conspiracy, Opioids, Pharmaceuticals