Georgetown County files lawsuit against big pharmaceutical companies

VIDEO: County suing pharmaceutical companies

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday claims some big pharmaceutical companies played a part in the nation-wide opioid epidemic.

Georgetown County is suing major companies like Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The county is asking for financial relief.

It claims these companies marketed opioids as being safe and downplayed the risk of addiction.

According to the lawsuit, governments like Georgetown County had to pick up the costs from providing addiction treatment and handling emergency responses to overdoses.

The 277-page lawsuit is part of a national effort involving countless governments and municipalities. The lawsuit claims manufacturers acted without thinking of the lives that would be ruined, for the sake of profit.

Lawyers involved in this case say these companies convinced doctors to prescribe opioids for common pains and failed to stop the oversupply of prescription drugs, which led to skyrocketing addiction, overdose, and death.

“They created a look-alike drug that has the consequences for pain," Attorney Billy Walker said. "It works, but it leaves behind a trail of addiction, and you and I and every taxpayer in America is having to pay the extra costs our governments are incurring as a consequence of the bi-product of this whole event.”

A Janssen Pharmaceuticals denied these claims in a statement:

Our actions in the marketing and promotion of these important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible. The FDA-approved labels for these prescription pain medications provide clear information about their risks and benefits. The allegations made against our company are baseless and unsubstantiated. In fact, since 2008, our opioid medications have accounted for less than one percent of the U.S. market for this class of medications (including generics).

Opioid abuse and addiction are serious public health issues. We are committed to being part of the ongoing dialogue and to doing our part to find ways to address this crisis.

Walker says the purpose of this whole case is to get some relief financially for the various entities involved, including the victims of opioid addiction, their families, and the governments.

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