9 Tennessee counties file opioid epidemic lawsuit against drugmakers

Three Tennessee district attorneys general filed a lawsuit Tuesday against drugmakers for allegedly contributing to the rising rates of opioid overdoses in the state, according to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

They filed the suit on behalf of nine counties in the state.

The lawsuit accuses Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt and Endo Pharmaceuticals of aggressively pushing opioid medications on the community through deceptive marketing and fraud, according to the report. The suit also names Center Pointe Medical Clinic in Kingsport and two convicted opiate dealers. The lawsuit accuses the medical clinic of loosely prescribing opioids. Additionally, the suit accuses the two convicted drug dealers of supplying plaintiff "Mary Doe" whose child, plaintiff "Baby Doe" was born addicted to opiates, according to the report.

"It is now beyond reasonable question that the manufacturer defendants' fraud caused Mary Doe and thousands of others in Tennessee to become addicted to opioids — an addiction that, thanks to their fraudulent conduct, was all but certain to occur," the lawsuit states, according to the News Sentinel.

The lawsuit employs the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act established in 2005, which makes drug dealers fiscally liable for damages brought on by the drugs they sell. It is commonly referred to as a "crack tax" as it has been used to facilitate civil actions against street drug dealers, according to the report.

The legal action follows similar lawsuits filed by numerous towns, counties and states across the country to recover funds spent addressing widespread illicit opioid use.

"While we vigorously deny the allegations in the complaint, we share public officials' concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," said Purdue Pharma in a statement emailed to Becker's. "Addiction and drug abuse are multifaceted problems that require multifaceted solutions. Pointing fingers will not solve the problem, nor will it help those who are suffering."

In an emailed statement to Becker's, a Mallinckrodt spokesperson said, “We have not yet been contacted regarding this litigation. It is important to note that Mallinckrodt does not promote opioids and manufactures only generic and non-promoted, brand opioids. We have broadly supported efforts to combat the opioid abuse healthcare crisis through a range of advocacy initiatives, direct lobbying campaigns and charitable activities. We take our responsibility as an opioid manufacturer very seriously."

Becker's has reached out to Endo Pharmaceuticals for a statement and will update this article as needed.

Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Mallinckrodt.

More articles on opioids: 
NY county files opioid epidemic suit targeting pharma, drug distributors and physicians 
HIV, hep C and opioids — 3 notes on America's interconnected epidemics 
FDA increases scrutiny on abuse-deterrent opioids: 5 things to know

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