Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has been given approval by a state judge to move forward with with action against drugmakers and distributors for illegal marketing and sales of opioid painkillers resulting in a nationwide epidemic. The suit, a first of its kind, brings claims under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
The UTPCPL bans fraudulent or deceptive conduct which “creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding.” The districts attorney’s office claims the drugmakers’ marketing efforts mislead doctors into thinking the powerful painkillers were safe to prescribe for chronic pain.
Stephen A. Sheller, founder of Sheller PC, is one of five private private law firms assisting Philadelphia district attorney’s office in a lawsuit.
Multiple opioid manufactures including Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson are named as defendants in the lawsuit, as well as drug distributors.
Judge Barry Dozier rejected the defendant’s claim that Krasner is required to show a clear connection between conduct and the allege injury.
“The plain language of [the statute] contains no requirement that the … district attorney plead or prove proximate cause in order to establish [a] right to relief.” –Judge Barry Dozier
The lawsuit consolidates 50 different cases brought by government entities and other parties.
“The district attorney’s office is gratified by the court’s decision allowing our lawsuit against these opioid companies to proceed to discovery. The scores of people who’ve been harmed by the addiction crisis deserve to know the full truth about Big Pharma’s marketing and distribution efforts. The DAO looks forward to uncovering the truth about the inner workings of the opioid industry and holding them accountable for the opioid crisis.“ –Jane Roh, spokesperson for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
The district attorney’s office is represented by Jennifer Connolly, Burton LeBlan and Christine Mansour of Baron & Budd PC, Gregory Heller of Young Ricchiuti Caldwell & Heller LLC, Thomas Biemer and Jerry DeSiderato of Dilworth Paxson LLP, Stephen Sheller and Lauren Sheller of Sheller PC, and Andrew Sacks and John Weston of Sacks Weston Diamond LLC.
The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania etc. v. Purdue Pharma LP, case number 2018-00310, coordinated under Delaware County et al. v. Purdue Pharma LP, case number 2017-008095, both before the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
Pa. Judge Greenlights State’s 1st Opioid Marketing Case, Law360, July 25, 2019