Tacoma, Wash., files suit against 3 drugmakers for alleged role in opioid epidemic

Attorneys for the city of Tacoma, Wash., filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions and Janssen Pharmaceuticals for allegedly providing physicians and patients with misleading information regarding the safety and efficacy of their respective opioid products.

The lawsuit alleges the drugmakers made false claims to patients and physicians in Tacoma about the addictive nature of their opioid painkillers over the last 20 years. These actions contributed to increased rates of opioid use among residents, which boosted the city's healthcare and public health costs, the suit alleges..

"The City of Tacoma joins other municipalities, counties and states across the country that are seeking to hold opioid manufacturers liable for the harms they have inflicted on the community and the financial burden their product has caused taxpayers," said Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli. "We will vigorously pursue these claims and are exploring all of our available options at this time as we work to protect our community members from the harm caused by the companies that put their profits ahead of our community’s safety."

Tacoma officials estimate at least half of the city's homeless population is addicted to opioids.

"While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share public officials' concerns about the opioid crisis, and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," Purdue Pharma spokesman John Puskar told Becker's via email. 

William Foster, a spokesperson for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, told Becker's the drugmaker recognizes "opioid abuse is a serious public health issue that must be addressed. At the same time, we firmly believe the allegations in these lawsuits are both legally and factually unfounded."

Endo Health Solutions did not immediately respond to Becker's requests for comment.

More articles on opioids: 
10% of patients prescribed 76% of opioids, study finds 
Gallup: Most Americans don't want prescriptions for pain 
3 quotes from Dr. Atul Gawande on the role of physicians in the opioid epidemic

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