Missouri AG files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced a lawsuit against three opioid manufacturers on Wednesday.
The complaint calls opioid abuse and epidemic in Missouri and an urgent public-health crisis.
“Missouri faces an urgent public-health crisis. Each year, hundreds of Missourians die from opioid overdoses, while tens of thousands more are hospitalized or require emergency treatment. Opioid addiction and abuse have destroyed the lives of countless Missourians and ravaged communities across the State.”
Jammie Fabick said she is still in disbelief over her daughter's death.
"We live in West St. Louis county. We're probably not the typical face, what everybody thinks it is," said Fabick.
Helen Fabick died on February 8, 2014. It was the morning of the father-daughter dance at Helen's high school, Ursuline Academy. She was 17.
"I always asked myself, how did we go from picking junior rings, college campus visits to picking out a casket and what we're going to bury her in?" Fabick said.
Fabick stood with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, asking pharmaceutical companies to be held responsible for opioid addictions.
The suit alleges the companies carried out campaigns to mislead doctors and consumers about the risks and benefits of opioids, which generated billions of dollars.
"These companies knew the drugs they sell and market are highly-addictive and even life-threatening if misused. They have engaged in fraud to convince Missouri doctors and consumers otherwise," Hawley said.
Hawley asked for a jury trial and seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. If awarded, it could be the largest judgments in Missouri history.
"I hope that and expect that many of the funds would be used for restitution, for recovery, for rehabilitation programs, for job re-training programs," Hawley said.
Meanwhile, Fabick said her focus is now to educate parents about the dangers of prescription drugs.
"I do not want my daughter's death to be for nothing. I know she wouldn't either," Fabick said.
Hawley said the companies were chosen in the lawsuit because he’s confident about the evidence the office has about their fraud and they make up the ‘lion’s share’ of the opioid market.
“Defendants fraudulently misrepresented the risks posed by the drugs that they manufacture and sell, misleading both doctors and consumers,” The complaint states.
Endo Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals are all named in the suit.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals statement
We recognize that opioid abuse is a serious public health issue. Janssen has acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label.
Purdue Pharma statement
“While we vigorously deny the allegations in the complaint, we share the attorney general’s concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions. OxyContin accounts for less than 2% of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone -- all important components for combating the opioid crisis.”