Law & Justice

Putnam’s Lawsuit Against Big Pharma Moves Forward

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County Executive MaryEllen Odell signing the resolution to join the lawsuit against the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors last December. Credits: File photo
2cc0a45872a64b165980_Putnam-County-Executive-Odell-Signs-Opioid-Lawsuit-Resolution.jpg

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - Putnam County’s lawsuit to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for the rampant heroin and opioid abuse and deaths will proceed after several motions to dismiss were rejected in State Supreme Court in Central Islip, N.Y, on Tuesday, June 19. 

State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo denied several motions to dismiss filed by various manufacturers of opioid-related pharmaceuticals. Putnam County is one of the dozens of New York counties that have filed suit against pharmaceutical companies for deceptive marketing practices, claiming these practices were meant to minimize the addiction risks of opioids. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant manufacturers fueled statewide and community-based addiction crises through false advertising and deceptive marketing.

“Justice Garguilo’s decision let Big Pharma know that we have a credible cause for filing this lawsuit and those companies will not be able to hide from its share of responsibility and accountability for the opioid crisis behind its high-priced attorneys,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “The opioid crisis has affected far too many Putnam County residents and I am pleased to see that courts agree that our case deserves to be heard.”

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County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who chairs the Health Committee, agreed. 

“The court decision verifies that taking on the pharmaceutical companies is not just a stunt,” Scuccimarra said. “There are triable issues of fact which should proceed before the State Supreme Court. The effects of opioid addiction and destruction are unquestionable, and have a devastating effect on society.”
Local state representatives also said they were pleased with Garguilo’s decision.

“The war against heroin and opioid addiction has been fought on many fronts; in treatment centers, in homes, in schools and now in the courts,” Sen. Terrence Murphy said. “The casualties have been the individuals and families whose health and safety have been jeopardized by pharmaceutical manufacturers who care more for profits than people. It is time they were held responsible for pushing poison into our communities.”

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne called the decision “great news in the continued fight to combat the opioid epidemic.”

“Putnam County is on the front lines of this fight to hold Big Pharma accountable for its role in the marketing and distribution of these highly addictive opioid pain medications,” Byrne said.

The court decision was encouraging news for Susan Salomone, executive director of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard. 

“This is definitely one important hurdle in many that we face,” Salomone said. “Our hope is that justice for all the lives lost is somehow redeemed through this Supreme Court decision. Although we cannot bring our loved ones back, we can find ways to use the proceeds from this litigation to help others that are still suffering.”

In addition to the New York counties’ pending action in state Supreme Court in Suffolk County, there are hundreds of state and local government cases filed in federal court, consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio.

Odell has said that any monetary award given to Putnam County will be given to the nonprofit agencies that help residents battle addictions. 

Article provided by County Executive’s Office.

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