WNPR

Waterbury Sues Drug Companies Over Opioid Epidemic

Sep 6, 2017

The city of Waterbury has filed a lawsuit accusing multiple pharmaceutical companies of causing the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. 

The city’s attorney, Jim Hartley, said the municipality is seeking monetary damages.

"They have enormous costs as a result of opioid prescription increases, and they have exorbitant opioid addiction treatment costs," he told WNPR. "And their view is this crisis is a creation of the large pharmaceutical companies."

The suit alleges a conspiracy by companies including Stamford-based Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin.

Hartley said the companies’ deceptive marketing aimed to ramp up prescriptions without heed to the potential effects.

“It’s an intentional scheme, really, to change the standard of care, and they did change the standard of care in medicine, to recommended physicians continue to prescribe opioids for pain management, when there [was] no medical literature that had examined the long term effect,” he said.

Waterbury officials said Bristol, Bridgeport, New Milford, Naugatuck, Oxford, Wolcott, and Roxbury are among 30 Connecticut municipalities that are considering joining the suit.

Similar lawsuits have been filed by other local governments around the country this year. None have yet gone to trial.

In addition to Purdue Pharma, the suit names Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Johnson & Johnson, and Endo Health Solutions.

Purdue has released a statement saying it will fight the lawsuit. "While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share local officials' concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," the company stated.

WNPR's Opioid Addiction Crisis Reporting Initiative is supported by Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network's MATCH Program.