Huerfano County, Colorado is the latest U.S. community suing large prescription drug manufacturers in federal court, saying they have willfully caused the country’s opioid epidemic through questionable marketing to communities and doctors.
This post excerpt is from an original article written by Blair Miller for Denver Channel 7 Copyright 2018 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Go to Channel 7 Denver for complete article.
Colorado and California-based lawyers for the county filed the suit Sunday in U.S. District Court of Colorado in Denver. They say the county has suffered economic damages of at least $750,000 already, and is expected to incur $1.5 million in further economic damages because of the drug companies’ actions.
The suit asks the court to find that the companies knowingly disseminated “false and misleading” statements about their drugs in violation of the False Advertising Law; to enjoin them from falsely marketing opioids in the future; to have the companies award the county thousands in damages, and to have them pay the county’s court costs.
“Absent each Defendant’s deceptive marketing scheme and improper distribution, opioid prescribing, use, misuse, abuse, and addiction would not have become so widespread, and the opioid epidemic that now exists would have been averted or much less severe,” the lawsuit says.
It says the companies, which include Colorado-based McKesson Corporation, “falsely” downplayed the risk of opioids and “grossly exaggerate[ed]” their benefits through “false advertising and unfair competition,” which “created or assisted in the creation of a public nuisance.”
The lawyers write that the approximately 6,400 people in Huerfano County would be protected from the manufacturers should the court find in its favor.
Huerfano County’s rate was 80.6 prescriptions per 100 people. Though that was higher than many state averages, 11 other Colorado counties had prescribing rates higher than Huerfano County’s, with neighboring Alamosa County’s rate coming in at 152.4 prescriptions per 100 people—the highest in the state.
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