Purdue Pharma is Sued by State of Montana over OxyContin

Posted in Fraud at 11:22 am by kevin

Montana has filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturing company Purdue Pharma, Inc in the First Judicial District Court in Helena on November 30 for the use of deceptive marketing tactics to encourage doctors to prescribe OxyContin, a powerful opioid, to patients since the late 90s.

At a press conference, Attorney General Tim Fox said that pharmaceutical companies that knew their products could harm consumers but still promoted them as safe should be held accountable. According to Fox, their investigation found that Purdue was aware of the dangers of their product for years but didn’t scale back distribution or eliminate it entirely. Instead, the company increased marketing efforts to present the drug as safe to use. Fox added that Purdue’s actions led to the deaths of thousands of people across the US.

The suit, which ran to 64 pages, put forth claims that Purdue tricked doctors and patients into thinking OxyContin was safe to use as a treatment for chronic pain. Fox revealed that their investigation found that close to 90% of opioid prescription in the state of Montana are for OxyContin from Purdue.

Fox said that marketing practice of Purdue was designed to make sure that doctors prescribe OxyContin to their patients without both of them knowing about the dangers of getting addicted to the drug.

The 64-page suit claims that representatives from Purdue paid visits to doctors in Montana, with the nature of those visits to promote OxyContin. A physician in billings was the most visited doctor but the actual number of visits were undisclosed.

The suit also claims that payments were made or items were given worth over $16,500 to another doctor in Billings by a sales representative of Purdue for a period of nearly three years.

The complaint also outlined the use of medical experts by Purdue to provide lectures on how OxyContin can be used to treat pain as well as its risks. The suit alleged that said experts in the medical field were paid by the company. One expert, Dr Russell Portenoy, admitted giving lectures that were not based on facts and acknowledged that it was not the right thing to do.

In the suit, the state of Montana claims that Purdue informed OxyContin prescribers that the drug worked for 12 hours. This, despite the fact the company knew it didn’t work for everyone thus resulting in others needing their dosage to be upped which increased the chances of addiction.

Between 2000 and 2015, 693 deaths were the result of an overdose of prescription opioids, according to data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). The DPHHS also adds that there are 83 painkiller prescriptions written each year for every 100 citizens of Montana.

The opioid epidemic isn’t just a problem in Montana alone. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, of the 52,404 drug overdose deaths in 2015, 33,091 or 63.1% were attributed to opioids.

Although the lawsuit filed by Montana against Purdue Pharma doesn’t have an attached monetary value, any value that will be won could be used for anything from law enforcement to treatment to drug courts.



Texas County Files Opioid Lawsuit

Posted in Fraud, Medical Malpractice, Negligence, Products Liability at 3:39 pm by kevin

America has an opioid problem. The epidemic has resulted in addictions, deaths caused by drug overdose, and economic burden that totals $78.5 billion. Although drug makers have been sued by cities, states, and other agencies, the lawsuit filed by Dallas-based litigation firm Simon Greenstone Panetier & Bartlett in behalf of Upshur County is the first in Texas to hold drug makers responsible for the epidemic.

The lawsuit claims that deceptive practices by drug makers have created a marketplace that is both lucrative and illicit where pharmacy record falsification, prescription forging, and doctor shopping is a common occurrence. It also claims that an increase in heroin use is linked to the widespread use of opioids as addicted users turn to the other due to the unavailability of prescription drugs. The epidemic has also driven resident’s healthcare costs up.

Many residents of Upshur County have also cited opioid addiction as one of the reasons they sought treatment for substance abuse.

Opioid use doesn’t just affect the lives of those who use it, but their family as well. In Upshur County, parental drug addiction has caused a rise in children being placed in child protection agencies.

Dean Fowler, an Upshur County judge, said that the lawsuit’s goal was “to recoup the cost of the opioid epidemic.” The money used to treat opioid addicts come out of taxpayers’ pockets, and that the “cost to the public is very high.”

Jeffrey B. Simon, a Dallas attorney, says in the lawsuit that the epidemic “did not occur by chance.”

The lawsuit names more than 20 defendants, including Abbot Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Inc., and Purdue Pharma Inc. These companies manufacture brand-name drugs, such as Avinza (no longer sold in the market), Opana, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicodone, and Vicodin. Generic varieties such as hydrocodone and oxymorphone are being made as well. Some of these defendants also manufacture, market, distribute, and sell prescription opioids, such as fentanyl, Duragesic, Fentora, Ultracet, and Ultram.

The more than 20 defendants named in the lawsuit are all accused of using altering the view of doctors on opioids in the late 1990s and early 2000s through a “well-funded deceptive marketing scheme.” Drug makers use sales representatives and physicians – their “key opinion leaders”– to promote highly addictive opioids through souvenirs and toys that include, among others, bags, coffee cups, notepads, pens, and stuffed plush toys – all these bearing the name of the opioid brand.

The lawsuit also states that drug makers utilized “front groups” to help key opinion leaders negatively tinge continuing medical education programs, medical conferences and seminars, scientific articles, and treatment guidelines – sources that doctors and patients turn to for guidance.

After individual and coordinated efforts, the defendants also convinced doctors that opioids were “required in the compassionate treatment of chronic pain” rather than inform them of it being addictive and unsafe for long-term use.

The lawsuit claims that drug makers even upped their advertising costs compared to the previous decade. One advertisement showed how a writer used opioids to cure osteoarthritis but neglected to mention its risks.

A co-counsel of Simon, Jack Walker of the Martin Walker law firm, plans to file a similar lawsuit in the counties they represent.



Woman Wins 50 Shades of Grey Lawsuit

Posted in Fraud at 2:44 pm by kevin

An Arlington, TX woman has won a fraud lawsuit including royalties estimated between $10 – $20 million regarding the blockbuster book “50 Shades of Grey.”

According to the Star-Telegram, “The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over three days before determining on Thursday that Pedroza was defrauded by Amanda Hayward, her Australian partner in an e-publishing business that originally released what would become a New York Times bestseller.

“State District Judge Susan McCoy will determine how much Pedroza eventually gets after an accounting of the financial records connected to book sales is completed. Records on the royalties have been sealed, but earlier estimates were that her share could be $10 million to $20 million.”



Funeral Home Sued Over Missing Organs

Posted in Fraud at 4:14 pm by kevin

A funeral home in Valdosta, Georgia is being sued for negligence and fraud over the missing organs of Kendrick Johnson. Johnson was found dead in his high school gym about a year ago and a second autopsy pointed to blunt force trauma as the cause, conflicting will the original findings of the death being an accident.

According to CNN, “The lawsuit revolves around what the owner and employees of Harrington Funeral Home in Valdosta, Georgia, knew about the state of the young man’s body.

“Johnson’s parents were shocked to learn in June, when they ordered a second autopsy, that the young man’s organs were missing and had been replaced with newspaper …

“…In the lawsuit, filed January 31 and amended Wednesday, the family alleges that not only did the funeral home mishandle the organs, it disposed of them to thwart an investigation into Johnson’s cause of death.”



JP Morgan Sued by Madoff Victims

Posted in Fraud at 2:31 pm by kevin

Former customers turned victims of Ponzi scheme engineer Bernie Madoff are suing financial institution JP Morgan Chase and Company for $19 billion. The claimants are stating that JP Morgan turned a blind eye to the massive fraud scheme.

According to Reuters, “JPMorgan was Madoff’s bank for two decades. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims the bank was ‘thoroughly complicit’ in concealing Madoff’s fraud … The class action lawsuit asserts that even a cursory examination of the finances of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC would have revealed that the money was not used to follow an investment strategy but simply flowed between Madoff and his customers.”

JP Morgan Chase meanwhile deny responsibility simply stating that no one at the financial firm knew what Madoff was up to and therefore could not reasonably take action against the fraudster.