A few years ago, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood was worried about a friend’s son who served two tours in Iraq. After being injured overseas, he became dependent on prescription painkillers and eventually developed a heroin addiction.
But then, his friend’s son got into law school and showed signs of sobriety, so Hood offered him an internship in his office. A few days into the internship, he didn’t show up.
“We called his wife, and she went home to check up on him,” Hood says. “He was dead of an overdose.”
In addition to the 100-plus lawsuits, 41 states have banded together to subpoena information from four drug manufacturers: Endo, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, Teva Pharmaceutical and Allergan. They’ve also put in a request for more information to Purdue Pharma and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.
“If we get into those emails and executives are in the chain knowing what they’ve unleashed on the American public, I’m going to kick it over to a criminal lawsuit,” says Hood. “I’ve been to too many funerals.”
For now, all of the cases are civil. Most localities are seeking monetary damages to help them recoup the money lost to fighting the epidemic. Many of the lawsuits also hope to force drugmakers to change their marketing tactics, which they argue are deceptive, to make it more clear just how addictive the pills can be.