MEDIA, Pa. Delaware County, Pennsylvania's fifth largest county, today declared war on opioid addiction by becoming the first county in the state to sue for damages against 11 major drug suppliers of opioids and their consulting physicians, who have for decades conspired to deceitfully promote and market "the benefits of using opioids to treat chronic pain". The unprecedented filing (Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, 17-8095) was announced by the County Council, District Attorney and Sheriff.
"Today we are sending a message to the big pharma companies named in this lawsuit that Delaware County will not tolerate their well-documented, abusive opioid sales and marketing tactics that are systematically turning patients – including our fellow citizens - into addicts and then fatalities," said Dave White, County Councilman and co-chair of the county's Heroin Task Force.
Mario J. Civera Jr., Chair of County Council, said, "Five years ago we established the Heroin Task Force to help combat the deadly opioid menace, and today we take the next decisive action against the prescription drug (branded and unbranded) producers and marketers to protect public health and safety in our county."
Delaware County District Attorney John J. Whelan, who co-chairs the Heroin Task Force, added, "We will fight this national epidemic of senseless death and destruction with civil litigation, and that is why the top makers of prescription pain-killer opioids are named as defendants, along with the doctors who helped them unleash their outrageous, illegal business practices that put profits – calculated in the billions – over public safety."
Trial attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, whose firm will lead the plaintiff's legal team, stated, "We are honored to represent Delaware County as it undertakes this courageous litigation to hold the suppliers of deadly opioids responsible for their conduct, and hold them accountable in the monetary terms they completely understand. Money motivates their every deceitful action and we plan to demonstrate at trial that their actions have been cold and calculated, and we will hold them accountable to appropriately compensate Delaware County – on behalf of its citizens – for the harm they've inflicted and continue to inflict through their business practices." Mr. Mongeluzzi noted that his firm's trial team will include Michael F. Barrett, and Carmen Belefonte, who nearly 12 years ago established – and still directs - SMBB's Delaware County office.
Councilman White, noting that Delaware County is the third largest employer (with nearly 3,000 employees) in the county, stated, "We were the first county to recognize the need to equip police and first responders with naloxone (Narcan), and that action saved and is saving lives. But this lawsuit demonstrates that we have to get to the source, and that doesn't just mean the street dealer, but the big pharma suppliers of opioids that have either skirted the law or thumbed their noses at multi-million-dollar fines. Enough is enough. Unlike those companies, the county does not have deep pockets, and we recognize that our costs – including rehabilitation services – is skyrocketing."
Harris L. Pogust, of Pogust Braslow & Millrood, LLC, who will serve as co-counsel in the litigation, also commended the County for taking the lead among the state's 67 counties in filing the Complaint. "Officials here are acutely aware that the opioid crisis every year is costing the County lives – more than 100 so far just this year – and millions of dollars in economic impact in virtually every area of the government. None of its 49 municipalities is immune from this catastrophe that has become synonymous with the defendants' conduct in this action."
Those defendants (including the three physicians that are referred to as Known Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in the lawsuit, are: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Dr. Perry Fine; Dr. Scott Fishman and Dr. Lynn Webster.
Co-counsel in the litigation includes the highly acclaimed national firm of Simmons Hadly Conroy, which has frequently collaborated with SMBB and PBM on major mass tort litigation.
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