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Doña Ana County Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers And Distributors

Doña Ana County has filed suit against the nation’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in creating a widespread diversion of prescription opiates for nonmedical purposes. Here is a statement issued by the county:

   The case was filed Oct. 15 in federal district court in the District of New Mexico (Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation et al Court: New Mexico District Court Case Num: 1:18-cv-00959).

   Doña Ana County has recorded the fourth highest number of opioid-related deaths out of 33 counties in New Mexico and has struggled to manage the costs associated with widespread opioid abuse. Between 2014 and 2016, 104 people died from drug overdoses in Doña Ana County. Additionally, in 2016, there were 70 opioid-poisoning related Emergency Department visits in Doña Ana County, up from 53 opioid-poisoning related Emergency Department visits in 2015.

   “Doña Ana County has invested a substantial amount of time, money and resources to aggressively combat our opioid crisis from every angle, including the pursuit of grant money that has enabled us to purchase more than 1,700 naloxone kits,” said County Attorney Nelson Goodin. “Put simply – addressing the opioid epidemic in our county is expensive, and we need more resources to help our friends and neighbors who are addicted to these dangerous drugs. It is only right that we should demand accountability from the corporations that recklessly fueled this vicious cycle of widespread addiction throughout our community. Now is the time to finally hold the pharmaceutical industry responsible.”

   In the suit, Doña Ana County alleges that many of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, and deliberately misinformed doctors by claiming that patients using the drugs rarely experienced addiction.

   The companies named in the suit include: Purdue Pharma; Teva Ltd. (which acquired pharmaceutical maker Cephalon, Inc. in 2011); Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson); Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Noramco, Inc.; Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.;  Allergan PLC; Mallinckrodt; and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. Drugs manufactured by these companies include, but are not limited to: OxyContin, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Nucynta, Nucynta ER, Opana/Opana ER, Percodan, Percocet, Zydone, Kadian and Norco.

   The suit also alleges that three of the nation’s largest drug distributors – Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. – failed to monitor, identify and report suspicious activity in the size and frequency of opioid shipments to pharmacies, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the suit names three of the nation’s largest Retail Pharmacies – CVS, Walgreens and Walmart – for their role in failing to report suspicious opioid orders.

   Doña Ana County has hired a team of expert law firms, experienced in holding the powerful pharmaceutical industry accountable. Those firms include ROBLES, RAEL & ANAYA, P.C; Baron & Budd; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor; Greene Ketchum Bailey Farrell & Tweel; Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler; McHugh Fuller Law; and Powell & Majestro, PLLC. The firms currently represent more than 500 cities and counties throughout the United States and serve as lead counsel to approximately 80 percent of the municipalities that have filed suit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for opioid-related claims.

   “It is deplorable that these companies orchestrated such deceptive schemes to dump dangerous prescription pills into unsuspecting communities,” said Baron & Budd Shareholder Burton LeBlanc. “I’m proud to help lead this team and intend to fight vigorously to hold these corporations accountable, and to help Doña Ana County put a stop to this crisis.”