The drug makers have been accused of violating Chicago municipal laws against consumer fraud through misleading advertising and submitting false claims to the health insurance plan for city employees. The pharmaceutical companies downplayed the risks of addiction and exaggerated the benefits of opioid painkillers. The city hopes to be awarded the drug companies’ profits from the alleged illegal marketing as well as civil penalties and punitive damages.
“For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line,” said Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement announcing the lawsuit on Tuesday.
The CDC reports that the sales of opioid painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, leading to 16,651 overdose deaths in 2010 alone. The city of Chicago makes clear that they are not attempting to ban prescription opioids, but rather stop deceptive marketing campaigns which would allow physicians and patients to have all the facts
The companies under fire are:
- Purdue Pharma
- Cephalon Inc.
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc
- Endo Health Solutions Inc.