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More ET counties file suit against “Big Pharm”

(Press release–State Attorneys General)  The coalition of East Tennessee district attorneys general that brought an October 2017 lawsuit against several prescription opioid producers filed an amended complaint in Campbell County Circuit Court on Friday.

The complaint now includes an additional plaintiff, District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn, who represents Tennessee’s Fourth Judicial District and the counties of Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier. Dunn’s involvement raises the number of districts participating in the suit to six, and the number of counties represented to 19.

The initial lawsuit against Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. was originally filed by the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Sixth, Seventh (which includes Anderson County), Eighth (including Campbell County), Ninth (which includes Roane County) and Tenth Judicial Districts. The lawsuit named two plaintiffs, known collectively as Baby Doe, by and through their Guardians Ad Litem. Additional defendants named in the filing include the (now-dissolved) Tennessee Pain Institute (TPI), two former TPI employees and a convicted drug dealer.

The amended lawsuit alleges that:

  • The producer defendants directed their opioids to the 19 East Tennessee counties of the state’s Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, while the criminal defendants participated in the illegal opioid drug market throughout the same judicial districts along the Interstate 75 corridor;
  • Purdue Pharma embarked on a fraudulent campaign to convince physicians that OxyContin® created minimal risk of addiction;
  • As Purdue’s marketing efforts demonstrated success in the form of rapid increases in opioid prescriptions, Mallinckrodt, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and other opioid producers joined Purdue in its fraudulent scheme;
  • Purdue’s efforts and those of the other defendants to mislead doctors and the public about the need for, and addictive nature of, opioid drugs led to an opioid epidemic, created an environment for thousands of individuals in Tennessee to become addicted to opioids, and fueled a dramatic increase in Campbell County, Tennessee, and other East Tennessee counties in the number of individuals exposed and addicted to OxyContin, Roxicodone®, Opana® ER and other opioids, and;
  • The producer defendants knew their products were being diverted to the illegal drug market, but did nothing to stop it — choosing profit over people.

The lawsuit demands judgment against the defendants for damages resulting from breaches of statutory and common law, seeks to award restitution to the plaintiffs, and requests an injunction to stop the flood of opioids to the region. The suit was the second complaint filed in Tennessee last year against Purdue Pharma and additional pharmaceutical companies. The first was filed in June 2017 in Sullivan County Circuit Court in Kingsport.

On Wednesday, the district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Thirteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-Second and Thirty-First Judicial Districts jointly filed a lawsuit against the same defendants, alleging a similar pattern of disregard for the public’s welfare.

Collectively, the three complaints represent 14 district attorneys general and 47 counties in Tennessee.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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