A Dutchess County lawsuit is holding 11 drug companies accountable for deceptive practices that led to the current opioid epidemic, including many local deaths.

On Tuesday, Dutchess County filed a lawsuit against 11 pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies aggressive and deceitful marketing of prescription opioid painkillers, fueled the opioid drug addiction and overdose epidemic that has plagued Dutchess County, as well as the rest of the nation.

“The opioid and heroin epidemic is the public health crisis of our lifetime and Dutchess County has lost far too many lives to this scourge,” Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said. “It is time drug companies acknowledge the devastating damage, take responsibility for their deceptive marketing practices, and be held accountable for misrepresenting the dangers of these addictive painkillers.”

The lawsuit alleges deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, public nuisance, violation of New York Social Services laws, fraud, and unjust enrichment against defendants Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; as well as physicians Russell Portenoy, Perry Fine, Scott Fishman and Lynn Webster, who allegedly were instrumental in promoting opioids for sale and distribution nationally, including in Dutchess County.

“We have been fighting this war on drugs and addiction, but the enemy has been supplied by these pharmaceutical companies who have chosen to put profit ahead of patient safety,” Dutchess County Legislator Jerry Landisi said. “So many lives have been tragically impacted by the opioid crisis.”

The lawsuit also points to criminal activity, including drug-trafficking offenses, as well as costs the county paid and continues to pay to fight the opioid epidemic. The lawsuit seeks relief including compensatory and punitive damages for the tax dollars spent each year to combat this public health crisis.

Dutchess County is the fifth county in the state and second local county to sue drug companies for causing the opioid problem. In May, Orange County filed a lawsuit. Suffolk, Broome, and Erie counties recently filed similar actions.

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