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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Miami also strikes against opioid manufacturers

Por Damian

Miami joined a national avalanche of cities, counties and states that have filed lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of opioids, blaming them for fueling an overdose epidemic estimated to kill about 115 people daily. That’s why Miami officials filed the civil suit in Miami Dade County recently alleging deception and false marketing policy by several manufacturers and distributors of prescription painkillers, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Walgreens.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies created a public problem by falsely marketing opioids and illicitly supplying them in Miami, enriching themselves unjustly at the expense of the city and its residents.

"We believe that the pharmaceutical industry inflicted a heavy burden on people in the City of Miami and our nation", said Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez in a press release announcing the lawsuit. Miami joins about 250 cities, counties and states that sued manufacturers, distributors and marketers of opiates, accusing these companies of misinforming doctors and the public through an intense promotion that these drugs were safe and not addictive.

Among local governments in South Florida that have filed opiate litigation are Broward and Palm Beach counties and the City of Deerfield Beach. The Miami Dade commissioners have also debated the filing of an opiate litigation. And Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in January that the state is "ready to go to trial" if the drug makers refuse to negotiate an agreement.

Drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies have denied the claims and called for the lawsuits to be suspended until the investigation is complete to assess the long-term risks and benefits of opiates.

Bob Josephson, a spokesman for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and the main defendant in the Miami lawsuit, said in a prepared statement that the company has been working to find solutions to the opiate crisis, which has triggered the increase in deaths overdose of drugs, including Florida.

"We must balance patient access to FDA-approved medications with collaborative efforts to solve this public health challenge", Josephson said."Even though our products represent less than 2 percent of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we have distributed the CDC Guide for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, we developed three of the first four opioid medications approved by the FDA with anti-drug properties and we partnered with the Police to guarantee access to naloxone.”

Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse overdoses. The majority of litigations over opioids by cities, counties and states have been consolidated in a single case in Ohio federal court.

But the Miami lawsuit was filed in a Florida state court with the intention of giving the City greater power and potentially securing a greater financial settlement, said Mike Eidson, a partner at law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, who works with the attorney for the City of Miami and other companies in the case.