Bridgeport, Fairfield, Newtown and Shelton are among 18 Connecticut municipalities to file a lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies for allegedly concealing the risk of opioid addiction from the public.
The defendants include Stamford’s Purdue Pharma – a frequent target of such lawsuits for its marketing of OxyContin – Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Endo Health Solutions Inc.
The complaint includes claims of violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, public nuisance, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and innocent misrepresentation.
“By virtue of their deceptive and fraudulent marketing campaign, defendants have given rise to a drug epidemic the likes of which the Connecticut municipalities, the state of Connecticut and the nation have never before seen, resulting in substantial economic harm to plaintiffs,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit was filed in Waterbury Superior Court by Jim Hartley of Waterbury firm Drubner, Hartley & Hellman on behalf of the 18 municipalities, which also include Beacon Falls, Bristol, East Hartford, Milford, Naugatuck, North Haven, Oxford, Southbury, Southington, Thomaston, Tolland, Torrington, West Haven and Woodbury.
Paul Hanly of New York City’s Simmons Hanly Conroy is also representing the plaintiffs. Earlier this month, Hanly was appointed co-lead counsel in a national multidistrict litigation against many of the same pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue, that has been consolidated in Ohio.
Separate cases against Purdue and several other pharma companies have been filed by New Britain, New Haven and Waterbury.
“We are deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis and are dedicated to being part of the solution,” Purdue said in a statement. “As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge.
“Although our products account for approximately 2 percent of the total opioid prescriptions,” it said, “as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed three of the first four FDA-approved opioid medications with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone.
“We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense,” the statement concluded.