County files suit against opioid manufacturers

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The Chester County Board of Commissioners announced today that the County has filed an action to combat the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on its residents.  The County has retained the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP to file a civil lawsuit in the Federal Eastern District of Pennsylvania against drug manufacturers and distributors for their role in the opioid epidemic.

In January, the Commissioners announced their intention to file the lawsuit, and since that time, the County’s solicitors and staff from the Department of Human Services, Drug and Alcohol Services, Health Department, Department of Emergency Services, court-related departments and other relevant departments have been working with Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP in preparation of the filing.

Chester County’s lawsuit is focused on securing funding to aid with critical educational and addiction recovery assistance, social service needs as well as compensation for law enforcement and court-related costs, education and prevention measures. It will seek restitution for the harm incurred as a result of deceptive and fraudulent marketing practices of several pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and the failure to report suspicious purchases by certain wholesalers, which is a violation of federal and state laws.

Chester County has named seven manufacturing groups as defendants: Purdue Pharma and members of Sackler family (the creators of OxyContin and Purdue’s owners), Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals (including Cephalon), Allergan, Insys, and Mallinckrodt.  The County also has named the three largest distributors of opioids in the country, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen for their role in the epidemic.

Chester County has recorded 112 accidental fatal drug overdoses for 2018.

Through the effective actions of the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force – which encompasses leaders in health, drug addiction and law enforcement – the county can claim one of the most comprehensive anti-opioid initiatives in the state.  Actions related to the task force include distribution of Naloxone to every municipal police department in the County, and other first responders as well as individuals and community organizations; the creation of a program that provides support and direct links to treatment in emergency rooms to victims of an overdose; widespread medication drop box sites; and continuing opioid education events for health care providers, other professionals and community organizations and the general public.

Another event borne out of the county’s Overdose Prevention Task Force is the Chester County Color 5K, an annual event which has helped to raise awareness of the crisis and more than $100,000 over three years, as well as reduce the stigma of being associated with opioid addiction.

Chester County and the surrounding area is known as a key pharmaceutical corridor on the east coast with a number of “big pharma” companies headquartered here.  Many other companies linked to the pharmaceutical industry call Chester County home.

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