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February 21, 2018

Camden County sues opioid manufacturers, alleging racketeering

Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers deceived doctors, lawsuit claims

Lawsuits Opioids
01082018_Opioids_CDC Source/www.cdc.gov

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Camden County officials will file a lawsuit accusing opioid manufacturers of racketeering, alleging drugmakers operated a criminal enterprise as they marketed and distributed prescription painkillers throughout New Jersey.

Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. announced on Wednesday that he will file the lawsuit against the Sackler family – the owners of Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin – and a litany of drug companies, distributors and retailers.

The lawsuit alleges the Sackler family – owners of Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin – executed a scheme to deceive doctors into believing opioids could be prescribed for lengthy periods of time with little risk of addiction. 

The alleged scheme resulted in billions of dollars for Purdue and its top executives while predictably addicting millions of people to opioids, Camden officials claim. 

"The meteoric rise in opioid prescriptions and the attendant rise in addiction to and abuse of these drugs is not due to a medical breakthrough," Cappelli said in a statement, "But rather the defendants' quest for greater profits at the expense of American lives."

Pointing to statistics provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Camden officials allege that 75 percent of patients seeking heroin treatment began their opioid use with prescription drugs.

"These individuals were knowingly poisoning our families and children and doing it all under the guise of pain management, when we really know it was all based on greed," Cappelli said.

The lawsuit names Abbott Laboratories, Cephalon, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics and Mallinckrodt.

It also names as defendants three distributors – AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health – and four retailers – Health Corporation, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Costco Wholesale Corporation and Rite Aid Corporation.