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First Opioid Lawsuit by Texas County Filed in Federal Court

awyers for Upshur County filed the first lawsuit by a Texas governmental body against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid painkiller epidemic that has gripped Texas and the nation.

The lawsuit filed by the Dallas-based litigation firm of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, P.C. names more than a half dozen companies and their affiliates or subsidiaries. It was filed Sept. 29 in the Marshall Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District. Simon Greenstone and its co-counsel, Martin Walker, PC, also represent the East Texas counties of BowieDeltaHopkinsLamarRed River and Smith. Lawsuits are expected from each of those counties.

"There is no denying that we have an opioid crisis in America, and that the human misery and financial damage it causes is enormous," said Jeffrey Simon, co-founder and shareholder of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, P.C. "Although accidental overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, the pharmaceutical industry has not been fully held accountable for its role in creating this epidemic."

Meanwhile, 45 cities, counties and government agencies that are suing the makers of opioid painkillers filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Mulitidistrict Litigation seeking to consolidate lawsuits nationwide in a central multidistrict litigation docket in Ohio or Illinois.

According to the Upshur County lawsuit, opioids were tightly regulated for short-term acute pain treatment and to ease end-of-life suffering until the industry made a dedicated push in the late 1990s to encourage doctors to expand the prescription of the powerful painkillers. Relying on now-debunked studies and the assurances of key medical opinion leaders, primary care doctors, including those in Upshur County, were inundated with a message that opioids were a safe, non-addictive means to treat even moderate chronic pain on a long-term basis.

"While the pharmaceutical industry pulls in huge profits, local governments are bearing the weight of these industry marketing and sales tactics, having to find a way to pay for increased health care and community services, such as courts, child services, treatment centers and law enforcement," said Mr. Simon.

The case is County of Upshur vs. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al, No. 2:17-cv-00672. Also listed as defendants are Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company; Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, INC.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, INC.; Abbott Laboratories; Knoll Pharmaceutical Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLC; Allergan Finance LLC f/k/a Actavis, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals, INC.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis LLC; Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, INC.; INSYS Therapeutics, Inc.; Pfizer, Inc.; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health, Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Corporation.

Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, P.C. is a nationally recognized trial law firm with a reputation for creative and aggressive representation of clients in a variety of catastrophic personal injury matters nationwide.

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