Howard County has submitted a formal complaint against Purdue Pharma L.P., and other opioid manufacturers, as well as opioid distributors, in the Circuit Court for Howard County for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic.

“Last year in our county we lost 38 lives to opioids. Since 2016, more than 130 people have died in Howard County from an opioid overdose. That’s more than 130 of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. These tragedies are unacceptable,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “We believe opioid companies have, for too long, knowingly deceived the public and manufactured a public health crisis. We must put a stop to their model of profiting off of our neighbors and loved ones.”

A statement in the complaint reads, Howard County, “like many other communities across the country, is struggling with an opioid crisis. Unlike the crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine epidemics that preceded it, this drug crisis began with a corporate business plan. It started with a decision by Purdue Pharma L.P., and its corporate family (collectively, “Purdue”), to promote opioids deceptively and illegally to significantly increase sales and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Purdue’s private owners, the Sackler family. Unfortunately, Purdue’s strategies were quickly adopted by other pharmaceutical manufacturers. … As a direct consequence, the rampant use, overuse, and abuse of opioids has overwhelmed much of the country, including Howard County and its residents. Howard County brings this action to redress Defendants’ campaign of unfairly, deceptively, and fraudulently marketing, promoting and distributing opioids.”

According to the allegations contained in the county’s complaint, these drug makers and sellers have:
● Failed to disclose the known, serious risk of addiction
● Continued to tell doctors that opioids could be taken in ever higher doses without disclosing their greater risks
● Conducted fraudulent, illegal, and misleading marketing schemes
● Deliberately disregarded their duties to identify, report and terminate suspicious orders
● Hid their lack of cooperation with law enforcement and falsely claimed to be actively working to prevent diversion
● Worked together to sustain their market and boost their profits
● Ignored red flags of abuse and diversion
● Collectively fueled the opioid epidemic and significantly harmed Howard County and its residents

The county intends to pursue its claims aggressively and expects a protracted legal fight with the drug companies.