Hernando County suing drug companies over opioid crisis

Opioid overdose rescue kit

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 09: The contents of an overdose rescue kit are displayed in a class on overdose prevention held by non-profit Positive Health Project, holds up an overdose rescue kit after completion of the class on August 9, 2017 in New York City. The weekly class offers individuals free training with Naloxone […]

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area county has filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors who they say are responsible for creating the opioid epidemic.

County officials announced Wednesday they had filed a suit against the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The county says those companies played a role in creating a widespread diversion of prescription opiates for nonmedical purposes.

In a news release, county officials said they have struggled to manage the costs associated with the rising rate of opioid abuse. They also say drug poisoning and opioid-related deaths have significantly impacted their community in recent years. Increased criminal activity, law enforcement expenses and major public health concerns are other results of opioid abuse, according to the county.

“Holding these companies accountable for their actions is a big step in the battle of this opioid epidemic,” said Deputy County Attorney Jon Jouben. “We cannot simply sit back and let the greed of these drug companies continue to devastate our communities. Our team is doing what we can to put a stop to this crisis.”

The lawsuit accuses America’s largest drug manufacturers of pushing highly addictive and dangerous opioids. It also alleges they deliberately misinformed doctors by telling them patients using the drugs rarely experienced addiction.

Three of the country’s largest drug distributors are also named in the suit. Hernando County officials say the companies failed to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies. The suit alleges three big-name pharmacies also played a role by failing to report suspicious opioid orders.

Drug manufacturers named in the suit:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Teva Ltd. (acquired Cephalon, Inc. in 2011)
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals (wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson)
  • Endo Health Solutions, Inc.
  • Allergan PLC
  • Mallinckrodt 
  • Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

Drug distributors named in the suit:

  • Cardinal Health
  • AmerisourceBergen
  • McKesson Corp.

Pharmacies named in the suit:

  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

“The death toll from overdoses rises every day. Overdoses are at an epidemic level across the country. Florida is only one state being ravaged by this atrocity. These companies knew what they were doing, they knew the effects of these drugs and they failed to notify the public,” Jouben said. “Taxpayers should not be held responsible for fixing a problem they did not create. We are calling out these 
companies and holding them responsible.” 

You can read the full announcement from the county here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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