28 Wisconsin counties file opioid lawsuits against drugmakers, physicians

Twenty-eight counties in Wisconsin filed lawsuits on Tuesday against several drugmakers and physicians for allegedly engaging in a deceptive opioid marketing campaign, which facilitated the nation's ongoing opioid overdose crisis, according to a report from the Journal Sentinel.

The lawsuits are likely to be consolidated in court and collectively seek millions in damages for the cost of local social services, law enforcement and emergency care associated with the opioid epidemic.

"County governments are bearing the brunt of the costs of this crisis," said Erin Dickinson, a lawyer at Crueger Dickinson, the firm representing the counties, according to the Journal Sentinel. "Defendants must be held responsible for the devastating effects their actions have produced on counties across this country."

More counties in Wisconsin are expected to file opioid lawsuits against drugmakers in the coming weeks, according to Ms. Dickinson. The Wisconsin counties join more than two dozen states, cities and counties around the U.S. that have filed similar lawsuits.

Defendants named in the Wisconsin suits include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and certain subsidiaries of the companies. Three physicians are also named in the lawsuits, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense," Purdue Pharma said in a statement obtained by the Tribune.

Endo said it couldn't comment on pending litigation, but told the Tribune the company's "top priorities include patient safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe and effective therapeutic options," while preventing opioid misuse.

Johnson & Johnson told the publication it hadn't seen the complaints from the Wisconsin counties, but said the allegations in comparable lawsuits were "legally and factually unfounded."

More than 1,800 people in Wisconsin died of an opioid overdose from 2013 to 2015, according to the Tribune.

More articles on opioids: 
Kentucky AG files opioid epidemic lawsuit against Endo 
Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove: Healthcare providers helped facilitate opioid epidemic and have a key role in ending it 
U.S. Naval Hospital Naples begins prescription take-back program

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