Delray sues Fortune 500 opioid makers for ‘worst drug scourge ever’


Delray Beach filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against some of the largest drug-makers and distributors in the country, holding them responsible, in part, for an opioid epidemic that has cost local taxpayers millions of dollars.

The city spent about $3 million responding to more than 700 opioid calls last year alone, the lawsuit claims. Every overdose costs the city about $2,000 in manpower and lifesaving material.

RELATED: Why Palm Beach County is ‘epicenter’ of opiod crisis

Delray also took a financial hit hiring mental health workers, paying employees overtime, buying and repairing equipment for first responders and equipping responders with an expensive but necessary supply of the overdose antidote drug naloxone.

“Cities, like ours, face immeasurable human tragedies and escalating, multi-million dollar fiscal impacts due, in part, to the negligence and fraud of opioid manufacturers and distributors who reaped billions while knowingly, if not intentionally, spawning the current and next generation of opioid addicts,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said in a statement.

RELATED: The Post’s special report: HEROIN: KILLER OF A GENERATION

Delray Beach is suing for costs, losses and damages for injuries sustained by the city.

The lawsuit targets some of the largest drug-makers and distributors in the country, including McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health — among the top 15 companies in the Fortune 500.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Endo International, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Insys and Mallinckrodt.

Drug manufacturers “engaged in a concerted, coordinated strategy” to shift the way doctors and patients think about pain management in order to maximize profits and bolster a multi-billion dollar industry, the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims these manufacturers borrowed from “the tobacco industry’s playbook” by using disingenuous marketing. The lawsuit itself seems to borrow from the Big Tobacco era, when government entities, Florida included, successfully sued tobacco companies for falsely marketing their products leading to widespread illness.

“We look forward to our day in court to redress the financial damages our taxpayers have been forced to shoulder,” Glickstein said.

These drug-manufacturers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Delray Beach physicians to market oxycodone, a highly addictive generic painkiller and the nation’s best-selling drug, the lawsuit states.

Purdue, for example, paid $23,000 to Delray Beach doctors for speaking gigs, consulting and other services between 2013 and 2016, the complaint reports based on publicly available data. Janssen paid Delray doctors more than $77,000, while Mallinckrodt paid them more than $110,400, according to the lawsuit.

The pharmaceutical companies understated the addictive nature of oxycodone, the lawsuit says.

And Delray Beach, widely known as the recovery capital of the country, has borne the brunt of the ensuing epidemic.

Delray Beach claims these drug-makers violated state’s deceptive and unfair trade practices act; public nuisance, negligence and unjust enrichment laws; and violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO and patterned after the federal law originally aimed at mobsters so law enforcement can crack down on organized crime groups.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial. It isn’t clear how long the lawsuit will last.

Other cities, such as Chicago, Ill. and Dayton, Oh., have filed similar ongoing lawsuits, but Delray Beach is the first in Florida.

The city is represented by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, a national law group with an office in Boca Raton.

The law firm anticipates other governing bodies will join as plaintiffs.

“Our firm is committed to holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for their fraudulent marketing of opioids, which has fueled the worst drug scourge ever,” said Mark J. Dearman, a partner at Robbins Geller.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked
Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked

You've probably heard winter health myths for years and you may have even accepted some of them as fact. From being told to bundle up, so you don't catch a cold to your neighbor swearing he got the flu from his flu shot, these myths make the rounds every winter. Mom always warned you you'd get sick if you didn't bundle up before heading out in cold...
Winter storm effects: Flights to, from South Florida delayed by storm
Winter storm effects: Flights to, from South Florida delayed by storm

More than two dozen flights in and out of Palm Beach International Airport already have been delayed or canceled Wednesday morning, likely due to the winter storm dumping snow in Texas and freezing Florida’s Panhandle. By 7:30 a.m. seven flights out of the West Palm airport had been delayed and another three had been canceled, according...
500 expected for March to Mar-a-Lago protest in Palm Beach on Saturday
500 expected for March to Mar-a-Lago protest in Palm Beach on Saturday

At least 500 people are expected to attend an anti-Donald Trump protest scheduled for Saturday along South Ocean Boulevard, according to the protest organizer. Mark Offerman, a 48-year-old Wellington resident, said he created the event, called “The Inaugural Impeachment March to Mar-a-Lago,” on Facebook three weeks ago. DONALD TRUMP IN...
You’re a poet, you don’t know it until you write a deadline limerick
You’re a poet, you don’t know it until you write a deadline limerick

If you haven’t been paying attention, allow me to point out a glaring omission in the lineup for this year’s Palm Beach Poetry Festival. The annual event, staged this week at the Crest Theater and Old School Square in Delray Beach, is a six-day schedule of workshops, readings and talks that touch a lot of bases. For example, there&rsquo...
Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey's widow files wrongful death lawsuit against New York hospital
Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey's widow files wrongful death lawsuit against New York hospital

The widow of late Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey is suing the New York City hospital that treated her husband before his death in 2016. According to Reuters, Cindy Frey filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Mount Sinai Hospital and gastroenterologist Steven Itzkowitz of negligence while treating the musician, who had ulcerative colitis, in late 2015. >>...
More Stories