UNION COUNTY, NJ - On Dec. 20, 2018, Union County filed suit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors alleging that each company played a critical role in a coordinated and fraudulent scheme to profit from the unlawful sales of opioid drugs.
Despite knowing the dangers of opioid use outside of the approved uses for the drugs, opioid manufacturers and distributors set out to reverse accepted medical conventions regarding the highly addictive nature and usefulness of opioid drugs.
Further, these companies concealed evidence of opioid drug diversion in violation of obligations under state law to identify, monitor, and report suspicious activity indicating such diversion. These schemes resulted in thousands of unnecessary opioid prescriptions throughout the County and caused a national addiction epidemic in the United States.
The suit alleges that Union County suffered significant financial injury associated with the excessive number of opioid prescriptions that have flooded the County in recent years. The suit details the defendants’ scheme to encourage the use of opioid drugs to treat conditions for which the drugs were not approved, and the methods by which the defendants knowingly concealed information related to the risks associated with opioid drugs, including addiction and other safety concerns.
The alleged concerted fraudulent scheme has not only created a public-health crisis, but has also increased prescription and addiction-related treatment costs for the County.
Sergio Granados, the Chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders said in a statement that opioids and the manufacturers behind them have brought major problems to the county.
“The drug companies we are suing have made an enormous profit selling addictive drugs to our residents, many who have suffered great physical and emotional pain, and in some instances, died," Granados said. "Meanwhile Union County Government has paid the bills for the damage they’ve done. We owe it to our residents to recover whatever costs that we can. We will hold these companies accountable on behalf of our residents.”
The County’s complaint, which was filed in Union County, asserts claims against defendants under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New Jersey Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, as well as common law claims of public nuisance, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. The County is represented by Kanner & Whiteley, LLC and the Keefe Law Firm.