Miami Sues Drug Makers Over Opioid Epidemic

Apr 17, 2018

In 2016, the city of Miami saw 641 opioid-related overdoses, a 20 percent increase from the year before. Now, attorneys for the city have filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County circuit court alleging that drug manufacturers violated Florida law by aggressively and deceptively marketing opioids as safe. 

The 134-page suit filed Monday alleges that the drug-manufacturing industry worked to cultivate a narrative “that pain was undertreated,” which paved the way for increased prescribing of opioids for chronic pain.

Attorneys are requesting an unspecified amount of damages and are seeking “disgorgement” of “unjust enrichment benefits and ill gotten gains plus interest.”

The suit said the widespread use of opioids has caused an increase in emergency-room visits, emergency responses and emergency medical technicians’ administration of naloxone --- an antidote to opioid overdose.

The Miami Department of Fire-Rescue responded to 1,717 opioid-related calls involving the use of naloxone in 2016, up from 668 calls in 2015.

The suit also alleges the city experienced increased costs in its employee health-care benefit plan and in its workers’ compensation insurance policy as a result of the opioid epidemic.

The suit names as defendants the drug companies Purdue, Teva, Jansen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Insys Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp.

Walgreens is a also as a named defendant for its distribution role. Miami is the latest Florida municipality to file suit against drug manufacturers.

Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said this month that she was vetting law firms and that the state will file a lawsuit against drug companies, as opposed to joining a federal lawsuit that is before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Ohio.