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Purdue Pharma, Abbott Labs Deceptive Promotion of Opioids Class Action

In Pennsylvania, in 2016, approximately thirteen people died each day from drug-related overdoses, 85 percent of which were related to opioids. Who is responsible for this high death toll and the increasing numbers of people addicted to opioids? The complaint for this class action alleges that the makers have deceptively promoted the drugs, minimizing the dangers of addiction, the tolerance that requires increasing dosages, and the sometimes-lethal side effects.

The class for this action is all citizens of Pennsylvania who, for purposes other than resale, purchased, reimbursed, or paid for Purdue opioids, from 1997 through the date of a class certification order. The class includes private insurance providers, self-funded employer plans, managed care organizations, employee benefit plans, workers’ compensation plans, HMOs, PPOs, and so on, who is at risk to pay for or reimburse the cost of prescription drugs dispensed to natural persons.

The plaintiffs are one such group, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, and they are suing the defendants—Purdue Pharma, LP, Purdue Pharma, Inc., Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Inc.—for violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the RICO laws, among other things. The defendants make and market opioid medications for pain, including Oxycontin, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Dilaudid-HP, Butrans, and Hysingla ER.

Early on, the complaint quotes a 1994 article on the pre-epidemic negative attitude towards opioids because of “the perceived likelihood of tolerance, … and the potential for side effects, worsening disability, and addiction.” It allows that “the initial response to an opioid drug may appear favorable … but adverse effects inevitably occur thereafter.” For example, “the motivation to improve function will cease as mental clouding occurs…” It goes on to say that “[s]erious management problems are anticipated…”

According to the complaint, however, beginning in the late 1990s, the defendants began a deceptive marketing campaign to promote opioids for the treatment of common pain, such as headaches and backaches.

Their efforts are described in the fifty-page complaint with extensive footnotes. Among them were the development of misleading literature and advertisements on opioids, the deployment of sales agents to push opioids, the persuading of seemingly neutral groups to develop educational materials and treatment guidelines, and the recruiting of doctors to give paid speeches, draft misleading studies, present deceptive educational programs, and otherwise act as “key opinion leaders” in favor of opioids.

The complaint charges that “medical evidence continues to establish that the long-term use of opioids produces rapidly diminishing analgesic benefits (if any) and diminishes patients’ overall health.” The materials created to promote opioids “were put forth as nominatively educational and scientific (but, in fact, fly in the face of established medical science).”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Purdue Pharma, Abbott Labs Deceptive Promotion of Opioids Complaint

October 23, 2017

The complaint for this class action alleges that the makers of opioids have deceptively promoted the drugs, minimizing the dangers of addiction, the tolerance that requires increasing dosages, and the sometimes-lethal side effects. Their efforts are described in a fifty-page complaint with extensive footnotes: the development of misleading literature and advertisements on opioids, the deployment of sales agents to push opioids, the persuading of seemingly neutral groups to develop educational materials and treatment guidelines, and the recruiting of doctors to give paid speeches, draft misleading studies, present deceptive educational programs, and otherwise act as “key opinion leaders” in favor of opioids.

opiods_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

Purdue Pharma, Abbott Labs Deceptive Promotion of Opioids Complaint

October 23, 2017

The complaint for this class action alleges that the makers of opioids have deceptively promoted the drugs, minimizing the dangers of addiction, the tolerance that requires increasing dosages, and the sometimes-lethal side effects. Their efforts are described in a fifty-page complaint with extensive footnotes: the development of misleading literature and advertisements on opioids, the deployment of sales agents to push opioids, the persuading of seemingly neutral groups to develop educational materials and treatment guidelines, and the recruiting of doctors to give paid speeches, draft misleading studies, present deceptive educational programs, and otherwise act as “key opinion leaders” in favor of opioids.

opiods_complaint.pdf
Tags: Opioid Prescriptions, Pharmaceuticals