PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that his office has filed a civil lawsuit in South Dakota State Circuit Court against prescription drug manufactures Purdue, Endo and Janssen for deceptive marketing and sale of prescription opioids.
“Pharmaceutical companies that knowingly and deceptively harm consumers must be held accountable,” said Jackley. “Misleading and deceptive marketing about the risks and benefits of opioids has fueled an explosion of addiction. We cannot ignore the devastating consequences of their actions as they are directly affecting South Dakota families and communities.”
The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies violated South Dakota’s Deceptive Trade laws, Medicaid Fraud statutes and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids. The allegations of false marketing included medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain opioids for the treatment of chronic pain. This behavior magnified the prescription of opioids and fueled opioid abuse in South Dakota. The falsity of each Defendant’s misrepresentation has been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among their marketing claims, a number of the manufacturer’s branded ads deceptively portrayed the benefits for chronic pain. In addition, these manufacturers promoted the use of opioids from chronic pain through “detailers”- sales representatives who visited individual doctors and medical staff in their offices and small-group speaker programs. These presentations conveyed misleading information, omitted material information, and failed to correct manufacturer prior misrepresentations about the benefits of opioids.
In addition, the manufacturers knowingly marketed these products with a misrepresentation of the risks and benefits of opioids. The marketing scheme was to convince doctors and patients in South Dakota that opioids can and should be used to treat chronic pain and with that, convince them that long-term opioid use is both safe and helpful. The manufacturer’s claims were not supported by scientific evidence.
Effect on South Dakota
In 2017, there were a total of 595,934 opioid prescriptions that included 39.3 million doses of opioids. In 2017, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services reported spending $20.2 million on payments to providers for substance abuse and other related treatment and these numbers continue to increase.
The manufacturer’s success in extending the market of opioid to new patients and chronic pain conditions has created an abundance of drugs available for non-medical and criminal use and fueled a new wave of addiction and injury.
Attorney General Jackley’s lawsuit seeks civil penalties and damages for reimbursement and treatment and to cease the manufacturer’s unlawful promotion of opioids and correct their misrepresentations.