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The New York War on Opioid Drugs

The New York War on Opioid Drugs

By Mitchell J. Birzon, Esq., Birzon Strang and Associates

New York has joined other states and municipalities to wage a battle against the manufacturers and distributors of drugs linked to the ever increasing number of opioid deaths. On January 23, 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commenced an action in Supreme Court (New York County) seeking $500 million in damages for the costs that New York City will incur in providing unreimbursed medical care to combat and provide treatment to victims of opioid addiction.

This initiative brings to mind the highly successful lawsuits brought by many of the state Attorneys General against the tobacco industry which were ultimately overwhelmingly successful in transitioning government costs incurred from cigarette related health care costs associated with prolonged tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

In announcing the litigation, de Blasio stated that opioid addiction caused more deaths in New York than car crashes and homicides in recent years. The lawsuit focuses on the alleged deceptive advertising and marketing of highly addictive opioids. The complaint claims that manufacturers created the false impression that the benefits of prescribing opioids on a prolonged basis to treat chronic pain outweighed any adverse effects to patients. The suit also accuses the distributors of failing to monitor and track suspicious large surges in opioid demands and prescriptions ordered and filled throughout New York City through local pharmacies and clinics. The Mayor also alleges that the distributors, in particular, have a legal duty to warn public agencies about perceived excessive prescriptions and distributions of the oversupply of opioids that have flooded the City.

Among the target manufacturers the behemoths such as Johnson and Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and Watson Laboratories are named. Distributors include McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corporation.

Mitchell J. Birzon, Esq., Birzon, Strang & Associates, 222 East Main Street,
Smithtown, NY 11787
631/265-6300, [email protected]

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