Philadelphia filed a lawsuit against certain pharmaceutical companies that prescribe opioids on Jan. 17 in the Court of Common Pleas, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
In doing so, Philadelphia is seeking to halt deceptive marketing practices and to demand drug companies to not only pay for opioid-related treatment costs, but also to reimburse the city for the money that it has spent trying to alleviate the epidemic, according to 6ABC.
Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest overdose death rate in the nation, and Philadelphia officials estimated drug overdose deaths reached 1,200 last year. Additionally, one in three adults in Philadelphia have been prescribed an opioid in the last 12 months and one in four families in Philadelphia have been touched by the crisis in some way, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The city has joined a large group of communities — including those in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky — that are also suing similar opioid makers, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported.
“The opioid crisis is the largest public health crisis this city has seen in a century, and it has been fueled by drug companies," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said to NBC Philadelphia. “It’s well past time for those companies to stop pushing these drugs and start helping us cope with the human tragedy they have caused.”
In the past few years, Penn researchers have studied opioid-related deaths and have worked with Philadelphia programs on fighting this epidemic. A recent Penn study recommends emergency department doctors set the default in the electronic medical records system to 10 opioid pills — about a three-day supply — to encourage prescription of smaller doses of opioid medications.
Penn faculty members also participated in Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s task force last year to “combat the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia.”
Named companies include Cephalon, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, among others, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported.
This lawsuit arrives seven days after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared Pennsylvania's opioid and heroin addiction crisis a statewide disaster emergency. This enables officials of Pennsylvania to pursue reforms that may have been regulated in the past.