Nevada attorney general files wide-ranging opioid lawsuit

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CARSON CITY, NV (KOLO) - Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford has announced the State of Nevada filed an expanded complaint (attached to this story) to bring justice to "multiple conspirators responsible for the opioid crisis that killed thousands of Nevadans, including elderly and vulnerable people, and devastated the state’s health care and public safety systems."

NV Attorney General Aaron Ford holds news conference about opioid lawsuit

According to the complaint, the lawsuit alleges "the manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and individuals created an ecosystem of addiction with deadly consequences to the state and its residents for their own profit. Through a systematic marketing campaign, sham “medical” organizations, funded experts, and other shameful tactics, the defendants peddled false science designed to demonstrate that opioids were a safe, non-addictive treatment for pain. The defendants furthered their wrongful conduct by encouraging doctors to treat addiction with more opioids and intensify the epidemic they created. Even when opioid deaths skyrocketed, the defendants simply redesigned their marketing campaign to continue to reap profits at the expense of Nevadans. Distributors and pharmacies, working in close concert with manufacturers, pretended to cooperate with law enforcement while they evaded controlled substance reporting requirements to fill more dangerous prescriptions to unsuspecting Nevada families."

“The defendants created an unprecedented public health crisis for their own profit and the deaths of thousands of Nevadans is on their hands,” says Ford. “Their conspiracy to dupe doctors into prescribing more and more deadly and addictive pills has left countless Nevada families and the state suffering in the wake of their greed. Their blatant disregard for human life shocks the conscience. My office will not rest until they pay for the devastation they have caused to our state.”

The complaint lists more than 40 defendants. Manufacturer defendants include Teva Pharmaceuticals, Actavis Pharma, Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler family which controlled Purdue Pharma, SpecGX LLC, Mallinckrodt LLC, as well as top executives of Insys Therapeutics, and various entities created by manufacturers and their executives to hide assets and evade liability, says Ford. Distributor defendants include McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health LLCs, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Walgreen Co., Walmart Inc. and CVS Pharmacy.

Legal causes of action include violations of Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, False Claims Act, Racketeering Act, negligence, and public nuisance. Purdue Pharma defendants also face allegations of violating a 2007 Consent Decree with the state.

The state joins other Nevada entities that have pursued similar litigation. While each has its own distinct damages and needs, entities across the state are united in seeking justice for those who have "suffered at the hands of the defendants."

"Today we stand united as a state in our goal to stop harm in our communities," says Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. "This public nuisance has taken lives and destroyed families on an unprecedented scale. And those at fault must answer for it."

“Like many counties across the nation, Washoe County has been greatly impacted by the opioid crisis,” says Washoe County Commission Chair, Vaughn Hartung. “Here in Nevada, we are proud to stand united to fight this devastating crisis that has claimed far too many lives. In addition to litigation, Washoe County has responded by forming a substance abuse task force to continue to tackle this issue on all fronts.”

“Like many communities across America, Douglas County has been tragically impacted by the growth of prescription opioid abuse,” says Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates. “In response to evidence presented by the Douglas County District Attorney Mark B. Jackson, on December 6, 2018, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners entered into a contingency fee agreement with the law firm of Eglet Prince, LLP to pursue all legal claims on behalf of Douglas County related to the prescription opioid abuse in our community.”

“The opioid crisis has hit Washoe County hard,” Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam says. “Day in and day out, the Sheriff’s Office sees first-hand the effects of the opioid crisis on our community. Unfortunately, drug use is a prime cause of crime and whether it’s in the jail or on the streets, my office is committed to doing everything we can to assist those who need help with substance abuse. This lawsuit is another tool in our arsenal and one that can help us attack the opioid crisis before it begins.”

“We are all being significantly impacted by the devastation of opioid addictions across this country,” Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says. “Here in Nevada, inside all of our large and small communities, we witness the horrific losses every day. And, it is clearly apparent that there are no safe or immune corners to hide from this crisis. We must act now and act aggressively to free those from the pain who have become addicted, often through no fault of their own, and create strong preventative measures to prevent others from falling into the darkness of addictions.”

“The opioid crisis hits us hard in the rural areas as well,” says Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Allen. “No community is immune from the problems and devastation that the crisis has created. We have had overdose deaths and numerous arrests as a result of opioid abuse. This law suit is the first step of many more to come to help us identify solutions and resources to combat this drug problem.”

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