The lawsuit is seeking damages for defendants’ deliberate and unconscionable efforts to maximize profits at the expense of individual citizen’s lives, families and communities.
The City of Sterling Heights seeks injunctive relief and financial compensation for the sale, distribution and prescription of massive quantities of opioids throughout its community, which has led to devastating consequences including addiction, crime, and overdose deaths. The City of Sterling Heights has shouldered the unjust social and economic burden of funding law enforcement, criminal justice and emergency medical services to combat the entirely avoidable epidemic, while employee health insurance programs are forced to pay exorbitant costs for long-term opioid prescriptions that are both dangerous and ineffective.
According to Sterling Heights City Attorney Marc Kaszubski, the lawsuit alleges that opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Allergan, and Teva, used deceptive and aggressive marketing schemes to promote use of the addictive narcotics; distributors, including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, failed to implement basic controls to stem the widespread use of the drugs; and doctors negligently and indiscriminately wrote thousands upon thousands of unnecessary opioid prescriptions.
These unlawful activities led to an epidemic of tragic and enormous magnitude in Michigan. In 2017, the number of people admitted for treatment for prescription opioid abuse through Michigan’s publicly funded services increased to 8,629 admissions, up nearly five-fold from 2001. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of overdose deaths in Michigan were opioid-related. Macomb County has been hit equally hard. Physicians in the surrounding counties prescribe enough opioids annually to provide nearly every resident with a prescription, and in 2017 the counties had the highest number of opioid-related drug overdoses in the state.
The lawsuit represents civic leaders’ efforts to proactively address these grossly deceptive practices and recover losses from the increasing strain the opioid epidemic has placed on their local governments and citizens.
“Powerful drug companies and their associates must be held responsible for the criminal negligence and fraudulent misrepresentations that have devastated our communities and irrevocably damaged the lives of hardworking, everyday people,” said Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski. “The over-prescription and abuse of opioid medication has drained our healthcare systems while causing widespread economic adversity and loss of health and dignity. The crisis has resulted in school and job absenteeism, not to mention increased criminal activity for those who are addicted but can no longer have legal access to these highly addictive drugs”
“As elected representatives, we have a civic duty to hold these unscrupulous drug makers and prescribers accountable as we work to restore good health to our communities,” said Mayor Michael C. Taylor. “Their intentional actions have caused significant loss of life as well as staggering emotional, social, and economic costs. We have been forced to funnel taxpayer dollars into managing the criminal and health related consequences of the opioid epidemic rather than on improving the lives and wellbeing of our constituents.”
“The opioid abuse epidemic that has hit Macomb County residents particularly hard and now the time has come for those responsible to pay price,” said Attorney Rob Huth, of Kirk, Huth, Lange & Badalamenti PLC.