By: Allan M. Siegel
Earlier this month, Montgomery County announced its intention to sue manufacturers
and distributors of opioids, which are a commonly prescribed type of painkiller.
Oxycodone and morphine are examples of opioids.
The County contends that these companies used false marketing and other
unlawful sales techniques in a manner that led to over-prescriptions of
the drug, and contributed to causing the nation’s opioid crisis.
The County further contends that the opioid crisis cost taxpayers, as
the government had to spend public health funds on treatment.
Montgomery County is the latest local jurisdiction to bring such a lawsuit.
Earlier this year, states and cities such as Ohio, Kentucky, and Minneapolis
have done the same. Also earlier this year, the attorneys general of 41
different states agreed to investigate opioid manufacturers and distributors
to determine their responsibility for the opioid crisis.
The lawsuits are reminiscent of an earlier round of lawsuits that state
governments filed in the 1990s against tobacco companies, alleging that
the companies hid the health risks of cigarettes in order to encourage
consumers to smoke and become addicted to nicotine. Those lawsuits led
to large settlements and forced the restructuring of the tobacco industry.
Time will tell whether opioid manufacturers and distributors will be similarly