On June 18, a New York judge refused to dismiss any of the claims by eight counties against drug makers. The opioid lawsuit included judgments against Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and several other prescription-opioid manufacturers.
The judge explained that the plaintiffs (the counties) had adequately explained several violations of the law, including consumer protection statutes and even public nuisance violations that resulted from the pharm industry’s actions – or lack thereof.
Judge Jerry Garguilo says the counties legitimately had a right to standing to sue over the public costs associated with opioid addiction. In the end, he said, the industry had created these problems through “assiduously crafted, multi-pronged marketing strategies that targeted the general public” – ignoring and obfuscating the truth about the addictive nature of the drugs.
Opioid manufacturers appealed their case by trying to say that the state law is preempted by Food and Drug Agency regulations. They also said that they’re not responsible for the actions of prescribing physicians, pharmacists, and others who helped create a flow of pills that often end up on the street. Because of this, they tried to plea; they shouldn’t be forced to pay damages.
One dismissal legitimately occurred; the judge did dismiss Actavis parent Allergan Plc, saying the plaintiffs failed to establish the Irish company wholly controlled Actavis for purposes of determining personal jurisdiction.
The judge also says that said the statute of limitations likely applies to most of their claims. Plaintiffs, therefore, will only recover damages extending back three years from the first date of the lawsuit.
Other than that, the judge’s orders were a strongly-worded opinion that affirmed the plaintiffs’ claims against opioid manufacturers. Opioid manufacturers said that all of the plaintiff’s claims were preempted by federal regulations. These regulations are supposed to tell doctors about their products, what must be disclosed, which wording is legal, and other guidelines, as well as distribution guidelines.
The judge rejected that argument. The rejection will be effectively opening the door to future claims under state consumer protection and business laws. Judge Jerry Garguilo says that these laws are the most appropriate, and the FDA is not involved in regulating marketing and promotions of the drug manufacturers.
This is not, by far, the only opioid lawsuit taking place across the US. There are similar lawsuits throughout the country that are targeting doctors, drug manufacturers, and others involved in the distribution of opioids as a product. If the ruling remains viable, this will set a clear precedent on how states can hold various entities involved in the opioid crisis accountable for their actions.
It is unclear when final monetary judgments will be decided or finalized.