Michael P. Canty on states, taxpayers footing opioid-related expenses
In a recent case, an Arizona drug company is preparing to settle a lawsuit brought on by the Illinois Attorney General, alleging the company pushed doctors to prescribe its opioid painkiller beyond its intended use.
According to the lawsuit, the company sold nearly $12 million worth of the pain-killing and highly addictive drug fentanyl in Illinois between April 2012 and March 2015, and about 94 percent of those sales could be attributed to the state's top 10 prescribers of the drug.
Illinois also accused Insys of marketing the drug to treat "breakthrough pain" rather than just "breakthrough cancer pain," though the drug may only be marketed for cancer pain. Company sales representatives also inserted themselves into the prescription-writing process, the state alleged.
Such lawsuits are becoming increasingly common across the country as states and municipalities try to recoup some of the costs of the opioid epidemic hitting their streets and neighborhoods, said Labaton Sucharow partner Michael P. Canty, who has been consulting with a number of attorneys general's offices on whether to bring litigation over opioids.
"Taxpayers should not be footing the bill, while at the same time, these companies that are alleged to be responsible for the opioid crisis are reaping record profits," said Canty, who also worked on opioid cases as a former federal prosecutor.
"You may not know anybody who has an opioid drug addiction, but you're paying for the Narcan (taken for opioid overdoses), for the hospital stays, for the diversion courts, for children born with a chemical dependence on the drug," Canty said. "These are all costs being borne by states."