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Georgia latest state to sue opioid manufacturers for allegedly fueling drug crisis
Hall County, Gainesville already joined in federal lawsuit
09202017 OPIOID EDITORIAL

Georgia’s government is suing several opioid manufacturers and distributors for pushing their drugs while understating the dangers.

Attorney General Chris Carr filed the lawsuit Thursday, saying pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable.

The spread of opioids has led to overdoses, death and addiction throughout Georgia and the rest of the nation.

“No Georgia community is (not) a stranger to the devastating effects of the opioid crisis,” Carr said in a statement. “We are bringing this lawsuit quite simply to seek justice for the citizens of Georgia.”

The lawsuit accuses drug companies of deceptive marketing practices that understated the addiction risks of opioids while overstating their benefits.

It says that opioid distributors, in their pursuit of profit, failed to flag suspicious orders, which resulted in the drugs being sold for illegitimate and non-medical purposes.

The defendants in the lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Par Pharmaceutical, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Actavis Pharma, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation; Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation and J M Smith Corporation.

In March, the city of Gainesville and Hall County joined a federal lawsuit against some of these same companies. The court later transferred the cases to the Northern District of Ohio, where it is known as the National Prescription Opiate Litigation.

“This crisis is costing cities and counties money,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said when the city hired an Athens law firm in March. “I think it’s a crisis that needs to be addressed. We’re just going to join in and see if we can make a difference.”

In December, U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

“(The) Plaintiffs have made very serious accusations, alleging that each of the defendant manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies bear part of the responsibility for this plague because of their action and inaction in manufacturing and distributing prescription opioids. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have contributed to the addiction of millions of Americans to these prescription opioids and to the foreseeable result that many of those addicted would turn to street drugs,” Polster wrote.

Polster continued to write the allegations “do not fit neatly” into the plaintiffs’ legal theories.

“Whether Plaintiffs can prove any of these allegations remains to be seen, but this Court holds that they will have that opportunity,” Polster wrote.

Staff reporter Nick Watson contributed to this report.

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