Big Pharma Fraud: Missouri Sues Opioid Manufacturers
Missouri became the third US state to accuse major drug manufacturers of misrepresenting the risks posed by opioids. About 500 Missourians have died in 2015 from non-heroin opioid overdoses, and thousands of others were hospitalized.
On Wednesday, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley filed the civil lawsuit in state court in St. Louis against Purdue Pharma LP, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
The three companies carried out a complex, multi-year campaign in which they deliberately misrepresented the addictive risks of opioids, and “engaged in a deliberate campaign of fraud to convince Missouri doctors and consumers otherwise,” according to the complaint.
"They used bogus front organizations and fake research; they used fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices," Hawley said in remarks prepared for a news conference. “And they repeatedly lied about the true risks of the drugs they sold."
Those action, the suit claims, caused thousands of Missourians patients to be given unnecessary opioids prescriptions, often to treat chronic pain. The complaint argues the companies violated Missouri’s consumer protection laws and its Medicaid statutes, and seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and civil penalties.
Opioids are a class of drugs that range from prescription pain medications like oxycodone, codeine and morphine, to illegal drugs like heroin. Opioid overdoses have killed more than 33,000 people in the US in 2015, more than any year on record, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.