Fairfax County sues opioid manufacturers

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today filed a lawsuit in Virginia state court against more than 50 known defendants, including opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, for their role in creating the public health emergency caused by the opioid crisis.

The defendants include manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Abbott Laboratories, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, Inc., Barr Laboratories, Inc., Actavis Pharma, Watson Laboratories, Inc., Allergan PLC and Insys Therapeutics; distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.; and PBMs Express Scripts, Inc., Caremark/CVS Health, United Health Group Inc. and OptumRx, Inc.

“Opioids are the number one cause of unnatural death in Fairfax County, and our residents are demanding action in response to this epidemic,” says Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “In addition to Fairfax County launching an Opioid Task Force, offering REVIVE training courses, creating safe drug disposal opportunities and educating our community about the dangers of drug addiction and overdose, Fairfax County seeks to hold drug companies accountable for their role in this nationwide crisis.”

The lawsuit alleges that defendants are responsible for the opioid epidemic and profited enormously from their respective roles in manufacturing and moving opioid products throughout the county, while misrepresenting or understating their addictive nature.  The county has alleged violations of statutory and common law public nuisance, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, fraud, common law conspiracy, negligence and unjust enrichment.

The lawsuit seeks to recover the public funds the county has expended to address the effects of the opioid crisis, including the significantly increased expenditures for the delivery of emergency medical services, law enforcement services, mental health services and substance abuse services as a result of the crisis.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.