Mississippi, Alabama hospitals file opioid lawsuit against drugmakers

Attorneys representing one Mississippi hospital and two Alabama hospitals filed a lawsuit Thursday against several drugmakers, alleging the companies engaged in deceptive marketing campaigns to promote the use of opioids to treat chronic pain, according to a report from the Clarion Ledger

Lawyers filed the suit in a federal court in Jacksonville, Miss., on behalf of Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb, Infirmary Health in Mobile, Ala., and Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville, Ala. The opioid lawsuit marks the first time hospitals have launched a class action lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Endo Pharmaceuticals are named as defendants.

"Each manufacturer defendant has conducted, and has continued to conduct, a marketing scheme designed to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for chronic pain, resulting in opioid treatment for a far broader group of patients who are much more likely to become addicted and suffer other adverse effects from the long-term use of opioids," the lawsuit states, according to the Clarion Ledger.

The lawsuit states the hospitals have expended a large amount of resources to treat overdoses, patients with opioid addiction and infants with opioid withdrawal syndrome due to rising rates of opioid addiction and misuse.

"Hospitals are the frontline troops in the opioid battle," Don Barrett, an attorney representing Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, told the Clarion Ledger. "Hospitals have lost billions treating opioid-related medical problems. Yet they have been thus far ignored. America's hospitals will be ignored no longer."

In statements made to the Clarion Ledger, each drugmaker expressed concern regarding the nation's opioid epidemic, but denied the charges detailed in the lawsuit.

To read the full report from the Clarion Ledger, click here.

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