Tucson hospital sues 25 pharma companies, distributors over opioid crisis

Tucson (Ariz.) Medical Center on Aug. 22 filed a 270-page lawsuit against at least 25 drug manufacturers and distributors, claiming they negligently and fraudulently created the opioid crisis affecting communities nationwide, according to tucson.com.

Here are four things to know about the lawsuit:

1. TMC claimed in the lawsuit that the opioid manufacturers violated state racketeering and corruption statutes and the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in widespread negligence and fraud, and intentionally downplayed addiction risks and failed to monitor prescription orders, among other allegations. The hospital also claims drug companies engaged in a deceptive marketing scheme to increase the sale and use of opioids, which have become the most common treatment for chronic pain, according to the report.

2. The hospital — one of the first healthcare institutions in the state to take legal action with regard to the opioid epidemic — named several notable drug companies in its lawsuit, including Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp.

"The massive quantities of opioids that flooded into Arizona as a result of defendants' wrongful conduct — 431 million doses in 2016, or enough for every Arizonan to have a two-and-a-half-week supply — has devastated communities across the state, especially the southern Arizona community served by Tucson Medical Center," the lawsuit states.

3. TMC alleges the crisis stretched the hospital's resources and that the institution continues to incur "substantial unreimbursed costs" related to patients' treatment with opioids. From April 2016 to September 2017, the hospital saw 22,000 patients for opioid-related conditions — 10,000 of whom were admitted to the hospital.

4. Tuscon.com reached out to Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Abbott Laboratories for comment Aug. 22. Purdue Pharma referred the publication to an open letter on its website acknowledging the epidemic and those affected by it.

In a statement to the publication, Janssen said: "Our actions in the marketing and promotion of these medicines were appropriate and responsible. The labels for our prescription opioid pain medicines provide information about their risks and benefits, and the allegations made against our company are baseless and unsubstantiated. In fact, our medications have some of the lowest rates of abuse among this class of medications."

To access the full report, click here.

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