U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

SF Sues Pharma Companies for Opioid Epidemic

San Francisco sued pharmacy companies for pushing opioids on the public by misleading people about the addictive dangers of the prescription drugs.

In City and County of San Francisco v. Purdue Pharma, the municipality alleges that Purdue Pharma and other companies aggressively marketed Oxycontin and other drugs knowing their high potential for abuse. The painkillers have contributed to an epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.

The lawsuit says the drugs were meant for people who suffer acute pain, but the defendants encourage opioid use for "the masses who suffer from common chronic pain."

"Masses Who Suffer"

City attorney Dennis Herrera filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California, naming more than two dozen defendants.

They include Purdue Pharma, Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Watson Pharmaceuticals, and others.

"These companies and the people who own them put their greed ahead of human lives," Herrera said in a statement. "Their profits came at a staggering human cost."

Herrera said the drugs are "dangerous, highly addictive and only suited for a few narrow purposes." They should not be in medicine cabinets across the country, he said.

Nearly 30,000 Deaths

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 30,000 people died from overdosing on fentanyl and other opioids. In San Francisco, more than 318,000 prescriptions were written for opioids last year.

The city is not the only government to sue businesses over the opioid epidemic. Last month, Florida filed suit against Walgreens and CVS for its opioid problem.

Florida alleges that Walgreens distributed about 2.2 million opioid tablets from one store there that served a town of 12,000.

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