St. Martin Parish sues drug companies for alleged roles in contributing to opioid epidemic

By Kyla Asbury | May 30, 2018

BATON ROUGE – St. Martin Parish is suing several drug companies and drug distributors that it claims played a part in the opioid epidemic.

BATON ROUGE – St. Martin Parish is suing several drug companies and drug distributors that it claims played a part in the opioid epidemic.

The defendants are drug manufacturers and wholesalers that the parish claims have conducted decades of activities for illegal purposes in violation of federal and state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statutes and other laws, according to a complaint filed May 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

The defendants named in the suit are AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.; Cardinal Health Inc.; McKesson Corp.; Purdue Pharma LP; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.; Cephalon Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions; Endo Pharmaceuticals; Allergan PLC; Watson Pharmaceuticals; Watson Laboratories Inc.; Actavis LLC; Actavis Pharma Inc.; Mallinckrodt PLC; and Mallinckrodt LLC.

The parish claims the defendants aided, abetted and conspired to violate RICO and other laws through their ongoing criminal enterprise.

The defendants used false and deceptive statements about the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use and spread false and deceptive statements by marketing their opioids directly to physicians and patients in Louisiana, according to the suit.

The parish claims the defendants paid physicians to serve as consultants on their advisory boards and funded front groups that favored chronic opioid therapy.

The defendants also allegedly instructed physicians and patients that signs of addiction are potential signs of undertreated pain and should be treated by prescribing more opioids, despite warnings by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the suit. The defendants called the term "pseudoaddiction."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2016 guidelines reject the concept of pseudoaddiction and confirm the falsity of the defendants' misrepresentations, according to the suit.

The parish claims the defendants also deceptively minimized the significant symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

The defendants' claims conflicted with the scientific evidence provided by the FDA and the CDC, and the numerous misrepresentations regarding the risks of opioids are what convinced physicians and patients to discount the risks, according to the suit.

The parish claims the defendants fraudulently concealed the harms of opioids and caused harm to St. Martin Parish residents.

The defendants knew or should have known the dangers of opioids and unlawfully distributed them, according to the suit.

The parish is seeking costs for providing medical care, corrective and/or alternative therapeutic and prescription drug purchases; costs for providing treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services; costs associated with law enforcement and public safety relating to the opioid epidemic; costs for providing treatment for infants born with opioid-related medical conditions; costs associated with provided care for children whose parents suffer from opioid-related disabilities; and all costs and means to abate the epidemic created by the defendants' wrongful and/or unlawful conduct.

The parish is represented by Anthony D. Irpino and Pearl A. Robertson of Irpino, Avin & Hawkins; Roderick Alvendia, J. Bart Kelly and Jeanne DeMarest of Alvendia, Kelly & DeMarest; Randall A. Smith of Smith & Fawer; Michael G. Stag, Ashley M. Liuzza and Matthew D. Rogenes of Stag Liuzza; James M. Williams of Chehardy, Sherman, Williams, Murray, Recile, Stakelum & Hayes; and John F. Young.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana Case number: 3:18-cv-00569

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