Dakota County Attorney James C. Backstrom stated today that Dakota County has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market opioid painkillers. Opioids are prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine also known under brand names such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. The 95-page lawsuit was filed in Dakota County District Court and seeks recovery of costs incurred by Dakota County and its taxpayers to respond to the opioid drug crisis created in large part by the conduct of these companies.
The lawsuit was previously authorized by the Dakota County Board of Commissioners and alleges the companies engaged in deceptive marketing practices and encouraged doctors to prescribe opioid drugs for chronic, long-term pain while failing to disclose the addictive nature of these drugs. This drug abuse and overdose epidemic started with a decision by Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related corporate entities to promote opioids deceptively and illegally to significantly increase sales and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Purdue’s private owners, the Sackler family.
The County Attorney’s Office asserts that other drug manufacturers followed Purdue’s lead and collectively they engaged in actions that are violations of Minnesota’s False Claims Act, Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act, False Statement in Advertising Law, Unlawful Trade Practices Act, Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as creating a public nuisance, fraudulent and intentional misrepresentations, negligence and unjust enrichment. The Motley Rice Law Firm of Washington, D.C. and the Minneapolis law firm of Briol and Benson will assist the Dakota County Attorney’s Office in representing Dakota County in this lawsuit.
County Attorney Backstrom said the pharmaceutical companies must be held accountable for knowingly or negligently creating the opioid epidemic through their irresponsible business practices. The Dakota County Board of Commissioners has recognized the terrible toll that excessive drug prescriptions and illegal drug use imposes on individuals, families and county taxpayers. In response, the County Board created a 2018 Board goal of raising awareness of the issues of substance abuse faced in Dakota County and cultivating evidence-based programs to both help addicts rehabilitate and prevent others from becoming addicted.
For more information, contact Monica Jensen at 651-438-4440.