The City of Seattle today filed suit in King County Superior Court seeking monetary damages from a host of opioid manufacturers for “the deceptive manner in which opioids were marketed to well-intentioned doctors” and for creating a public nuisance.
“Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, this disaster is human-made,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes, who appeared at a joint press conference with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson to announce separate complaints stemming from the crisis spawned by opioids like Oxycontin and Percocet.
“Our investigation has shown that, here in Seattle, the chief cause of opioid abuse is the deceptive marketing of opioids by pharmaceutical companies,” Holmes said.
“Seattle has paid upfront” by devoting millions of City dollars to criminal justice, first-responders, public health and human services to address the needs of opioid addicts from every walk of life, Holmes said. “These are sums that, but for defendants’ conduct, Seattle could have devoted to other beneficial uses,” he said.
Among the defendants are Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical and Endo Pharmaceutical, which are alleged to have used key opinion leaders and front groups, such as American Pain Foundation and American Academy of Pain Medicine, “to spread false and deceptive statements about the risks and benefits of opioids.”
“Through this lawsuit, I hope to recoup for the public and the city departments that have had to spend more of their limited resources on mitigating the harm caused by the opioid crisis,” Holmes told reporters at Harborview Medical Center.
The City is represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro on a contingency basis; only when Seattle recovers damages will the law firm be paid.
A copy of the City’s complaint and some of the materials referenced in it can be found at the City Attorney’s Office website: www.seattle.gov/cityattorney/news/seattle-opioid-litigation