| June 3
June 3 The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit
against five large narcotics makers alleging they contributed to
the country's prescription drug epidemic by deceptively
promoting their painkillers.
In a 121-page complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court
in Chicago on Monday, the city sued Purdue Pharma, Cephalon Inc
, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc, Endo Health Solutions
Inc and Actavis, claiming they overstated the
benefits of opioid painkillers for treating common pains and
downplayed the risk of addiction, overdose and death.
"For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the
true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive
painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase
their bottom line," said Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel in a
statement announcing the lawsuit on Tuesday.
The result, he said, had been a dramatic rise in opioid
addiction and overdose in cities across the country, including
Opioid abuse contributed to 16,651 overdose deaths in the
nation in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported in 2013.
Chicago said in a statement that it was not seeking to ban
the drugs, which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, but rather to end the allegedly deceptive
marketing so that physicians and patients could make informed
The lawsuit accused the five drugmakers of violating Chicago
municipal laws against consumer fraud, misleading advertising
and submitting false claims to the health insurance plan for
The city is seeking to recover the drug companies' profits
from the alleged illegal marketing along with civil penalties
and punitive damages.
Janssen, the Johnson & Johnson company that sells
the pain patch Duragesic, said in a statement it was committed
to the responsible promotion, prescribing and use of all of its
medications and was reviewing the complaint. Purdue, maker of
OxyContin, said it had not yet received the complaint and
Actavis declined to comment. Endo and Teva, which
owns Cephalon, did not immediately respond to requests for
The complaint mirrors a similar lawsuit filed in May by
Santa Clara and Orange counties in California, which accused the
same drugmakers of a deceptive marketing campaign to change
public perception and expand the use of opioid painkillers for
chronic pain, such as back aches, arthritis and headaches.
The lawsuits alleged the five companies used leading
doctors, medical education courses, patient advocacy groups and
professional medical associations to promote the painkillers for
uses not approved by the FDA, such as for pain not related to
The sales of opioid painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and
2010, according to the CDC.
The complaints said the marketing efforts contributed to a
resurgence in the abuse of heroin, which produces a similar
effect but is often cheaper and easier to obtain.
The case is City of Chicago v. Purdue Pharma et al, Cook
County Circuit Court, No. 2014-L-005854.
(Reporting By Terry Baynes in New York; Editing by Ted Botha
and Alden Bentley)