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McHenry County Files Complaint Against Manufacturers of Prescription Opioid Painkillers

Post Date:12/21/2017 4:15 PM


December 21, 2017



Today, Patrick Kenneally, McHenry County State’s Attorney, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the County against some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies and physicians. 


The Complaint, filed in McHenry County, alleges that the named pharmaceutical companies deceptively marketed opioid prescription drugs and misrepresented these drugs’ addictive qualities.  In the Complaint, the County is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the enormous amount of money it has spent and continues to spend combatting opioid related misuse and abuse.  In addition to monetary damages, McHenry is seeking to enjoin the defendants and prohibit them from their alleged unfair and deceptive practices.


“One of my principal responsibilities as the McHenry County State’s Attorney is to hold accountable those persons or entities whose conduct causes others to suffer,” said Kenneally.  “This lawsuit is an attempt to do just that.”  


In addition to McHenry County, DuPage County, Kane County, Will County, and Lake County are filing similar lawsuits.  The named defendants are Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Abbott Laboratories; Abbott Laboratories, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Dr. Perry Fine; Dr. Scott Fishman; and Dr. Lynn Webster.


The state of the opioid crisis continues to be dire in McHenry County.  Tragically, we have lost over 70 members of our community to an opioid-related overdose death in 2017.  Apart from the toll on human life, the crisis has financially strained the services the County provides its residents and employees. Human services, social services, court services, law enforcement services, the office of the coroner/medical examiner and health services, including hospitals, emergency and ambulatory services, have all been severely impacted by the crisis.


These costs include unnecessary and excessive opioid prescriptions, substance abuse treatment services, ambulatory services, emergency department services, and inpatient hospital services, among others. The opioid crisis has also caused the counties to incur substantial economic, administrative and social costs relating to opioid addiction and abuse, including criminal justice costs, victimization costs, child protective services costs, lost productivity costs, and education and prevention program costs, among others.


The lawsuit alleges the defendants sought to create a false perception in the minds of physicians, patients, health care providers and health care payors that using opioids to treat chronic pain was safe for most patients and that the drugs’ benefits outweighed the risks.  This was allegedly perpetrated through a civil conspiracy involving a coordinated, sophisticated and highly deceptive (unbranded to evade the extensive regulatory framework governing branded communications) promotion and marketing campaign that began in the late 1990s, became more aggressive around 2006, and is ongoing. Specifically, the complaints detail how the defendants allegedly poured significant financial resources into generating articles, continuing medical education courses and other “educational” materials, conducting sales visits to doctors, and supporting a network of professional societies and advocacy groups – all of which were successful in the intended purpose of creating a new and phony “consensus” supporting the long-term use of opioids.


The lawsuit will be prosecuted by the law firms of Simmons Hanly Conroy and Meyers & Flowers, two of the nation’s largest law firms focused on consumer protection and mass tort actions.  These firms will represent the County on a contingency fee basis and, as such, the cost of litigation will not be borne by taxpayers. 


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