Kentucky joins list of states su­ing Endo

State’s at­tor­ney gen­eral de­scribes com­pany’s ac­tions as ‘un­con­scionable’

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Brian McCul­lough bm­c­cul­lough@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter – To con­tact Busi­ness Writer Brian McCul­lough, call 610235-2655 or send an email to bm­c­cul­lough@21stcen­tu­ry­media.com.

An­other state is tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against Endo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals over its sales of the opi­oid Opana ER.

Kentucky At­tor­ney Gen­eral Andy Bes­hear filed suit last week against Endo, al­leg­ing the Malvern area com­pany vi­o­lated state law and di­rectly con­trib­uted to the over­dose deaths of state res­i­dents.

“To­day we are tak­ing ac­tion to hold Endo re­spon­si­ble for un­law­fully build­ing a mar­ket for the chronic use of opi­oids in the name of in­creas­ing cor­po­rate profits, know­ing all along the dan­gers of Opana ER that led to dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on the Com­mon­wealth,” Bes­hear said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the law­suits. “My of­fice re­fuses to sit back and watch fam­i­lies be torn apart while opi­oid man­u­fac­tur­ers like Endo line their pock­ets at the ex­pense of our com­mu­ni­ties and our fu­ture.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bes­hear, 191 Ken­tuck­ians died in 2016 from a drug over­dose caused by a pow­er­ful pre­scrip­tion opi­oid three times stronger than mor­phine. That drug, he said, is Opana ER (oxy­mor­phone hy­drochlo­ride ex­tended re­lease), man­u­fac­tured by Endo. The East White­land com­pany es­pe­cially tar­geted Kentucky vet­er­ans in its pro­mo­tion of Opana ER, ac­cord­ing to the AG’s com­plaint.

Endo took is­sue with Bes­hear’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of its ac­tions.

In an emailed state­ment, Endo’s Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Chief Le­gal Of­fi­cer Matthew J. Maletta said, “the pub­lic state­ment made by Kentucky At­tor­ney Gen­eral Andy Bes­hear in con­nec­tion with fil­ing suit against Endo that this or­ga­ni­za­tion and its ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees seek to ‘line their pock­ets at the ex­pense of com­mu­ni­ties’ is patently of­fen­sive. We in­tend to vig­or­ously de­fend the com­pany against the claims set forth in this law­suit.”

Endo is fac­ing le­gal ac­tions from a grow­ing num­ber of states and coun­ties across the na­tion in re­ac­tion to the na­tion’s opi­oid epi­demic.

In Septem­ber, 41 state at­tor­neys gen­eral an­nounced they are join­ing forces to in­ves­ti­gate opi­oid mak­ers and dis­trib­u­tors. Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro said the group is seek­ing doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion about busi­ness prac­tices from com­pa­nies.

Louisiana, New Mex­ico, Mis­souri, Mis­sis­sippi and Ohio, as well as cities and coun­ties, in­clud­ing Delaware County in Penn­syl­va­nia and a num­ber of West Vir­ginia coun­ties, have sued Endo, other drug mak­ers and drug dis­trib­u­tors.

Also last week, nearly two dozen Wis­con­sin coun­ties an­nounced they are su­ing mak­ers of pre­scrip­tion painkillers, in­clud­ing Endo, al­leg­ing in a fed­eral law­suit that the com­pa­nies’ “ne­far­i­ous and de­cep­tive” mar­ket­ing cam­paigns pre­cip­i­tated the na­tion’s opi­oid over­dose epi­demic.

In July, Endo agreed to with­draw the long-act­ing opi­oid painkiller Opana ER from the mar­ket af­ter the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clared its ben­e­fit did not out­weigh pub­lic health risks as­so­ci­ated with opi­oid abuse.

Pulling the drug from mar­ket, how­ever, hasn’t stopped Endo from pro­mot­ing it on the in­ter­net, Bes­hear con­tended. Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­pany still ac­tively sells other pre­scrip­tion painkillers, in­clud­ing Per­co­cet (ac­etaminophen and oxy­codone), which earned $31 mil­lion for the three months be­tween April and June.

“Endo failed to dis­close or mis­rep­re­sented clin­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant risks of Opana, Opana ER, Per­co­cet, Per­co­dan, and opi­oid ther­apy to Kentucky con­sumers and their doc­tors,” the law­suit states. The suit said Endo’s mar­ket­ing of the drugs are “un­con­scionable, of­fend pub­lic pol­icy; are im­moral, un­eth­i­cal, op­pres­sive, or un­scrupu­lous.”

Bes­hear’s said the law­suit, de­scribed by his of­fice as one of many to be filed against “rogue phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies,” shows how the ac­tions of Endo di­rectly vi­o­late nu­mer­ous Kentucky laws. It seeks civil penal­ties and com­pen­satory and puni­tive dam­ages for the com­mon­wealth.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Endo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ East White­land head­quar­ters.

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