A landmark trial targeting multiple opioid manufacturers and distributors began Tuesday with government lawyers accusing the companies of bringing death and destruction to communities.
CENTRAL ISLIP, NY — A landmark trial targeting multiple opioid manufacturers and distributors began Tuesday with government lawyers accusing the companies of bringing death and destruction to communities.
The case, bought by Suffolk and Nassau counties and state Attorney General Letitia James, is part of litigation over a pandemic involving nearly 500,000 deaths over the past two decades.
But this case is unique for targeting the entire opioid supply chain and being tried before a jury rather than a judge. The case is being heard in a Long Island Law School auditorium to accommodate several defendants and their lawyers.
Suffolk County attorney Jayne Conroy said in her opening statement that she would seek to show how drug manufacturers and distributors worked in a “parallel universe” from those experiencing the ravages of opioid addiction.
According to The New York Times, Conroy said, “death and destruction in communities, and a celebration of blockbuster sales and profits in boardrooms.”
Purdue Pharma was initially named in the case, as were some individual members of the Sackler family, before the company filed for bankruptcy. According to James’ office, the cases against Purdue, Mallincrodt and the Rochester Drug Cooperative are now going through the US Bankruptcy Court separately.
Defendants in the lawsuit included Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and his associates; According to the Attorney General’s Office, Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation.
According to court documents cited by The Times, the defendants say the claims are too broad and that their culpability cannot be proven.
James announced Saturday that one defendant, Johnson & Johnson, agreed in an 11-hour settlement to pay the state up to $230 million to stop the manufacture or distribution of opioids.
Johnson & Johnson said the settlement was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing and included two prescription pain relievers – developed by a subsidiary and accounting for less than 1% of the market – that are no longer sold in the US.
James told reporters after the court adjourned for the day that the defendants failed to comply with state law, lacked effective control and failed to detect suspicious orders.
“They failed to inform or notify the proper authorities and their compliance efforts were basically non-existent,” she said during a teleconference.