Consumer Fraud Lawsuits Filed Against Opioid Manufacturer
On October 5th, the state of New Jersey filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against INSYS Therapeutics, makers of the opioid fentanyl product “Subsys.” The state’s attorney general accused the drug manufacturer of blatant disregard for the law in its aggressive marketing of the drug, which allegedly placed many lives at risk and killed at least one resident. In its investigation, the state is also taking a close look at a number of physicians who prescribed the drug.
The attorney general insists that the manufacturer misled health insurers, selling more than $74 million just in the state of New Jersey between 2012 and 2016, even though the FDA only approved Subsys for use on cancer patients who are in a significant amount of pain. The drug is reportedly 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that 80 percent of new heroin users started on prescription medication, and approximately 1600 people died of opioid overdose in New Jersey in 2016 alone.
Perhaps for this reason, New Jersey is not alone in suing the manufacturer: INSYS now faces lawsuits from 10 states who are suing over another powerful opioid, Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. Each of the lawsuits is seeking maximum civil penalties for violations under the Consumer Fraud and False Claims Acts, seeking “illegally-gained profits” to finance the battle against opioid addiction.
Consumer Protection Laws
Each state has its own version of a consumer fraud law. In Florida, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) prohibits unconscionable acts or practices—as well as unfair or deceptive acts—in the conduct of any trade.
At the federal level, the False Claims Act is a federal law which imposes liability on companies found guilty of defrauding governmental programs. Not only can government entities bring litigation under the law, individuals are empowered to file actions under the Act on behalf of the government (as whistleblowers) and can receive a portion of any recovered damages in doing so.
Filing litigation under the Act tends to be complex. For example, there are very specific procedures which need to be followed in terms of how you file and serve the complaint.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have been harmed by what you think is a consumer fraud issue, speaking with an experienced attorney can help you understand what issues might be involved and whether seeking damages could help you address the harm you’ve experienced.
At Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A., we have been protecting consumers in Boca Raton and surrounding areas for a combined record of over 130 years under both state and federal law. If you have been the victim of consumer fraud, contact our team of experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.