Cities in Michigan Sue Big Pharma Over Opioids


Communities seek compensation after pharma misinformation campaign

As the effects of America’s addiction to opioid painkillers continues to unfold as an endless tragedy, local communities are connecting the dots and taking the pharmaceutical industry to court.

As part of this trend, Detroit and eight other cities and counties across Michigan filed lawsuits Monday evening against manufacturers, distributors and retailers of opioid medications in the state.

Other major cities have taken legal action as well, starting with Chicago in 2014 and now including Seattle, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Dozens of other cities and counties, in addition to more than 10 states, have also followed suit.

Although the comparison is not quite identical, many are comparing the actions against pharmaceutical companies to the takedown of Big Tobacco.

The Michigan cities and counties are seeking to recuperate the costs the more than 20 defendants – which include Purdue Pharma, CVS Health Corporation, Endo International PLC and Omnicare Distribution Center – have created, instead of leaving the burden to taxpayers.

Some of these expenses include those associated with treatment centers and additional policing. The cost of the lives lost to opioids, on the other hand, is unquantifiable, says Paul Pennock, an attorney with Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs.

The Michigan plaintiffs – which include Detroit, Lansing, Escanaba and the counties of Macomb, Genesee, Saginaw, Grand Traverse, Delta and Chippewa – claim that pharmaceutical manufacturers led a “misinformation campaign.” The companies convinced doctors, the medical community and the public that opioids were safe and addiction-proof despite contradictory evidence, according to Eli Savit, senior adviser and legal counsel to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

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To learn more details about how cities in Michigan are suing drug manufacturers, please visit US News.

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