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Baltimore joins jurisdictions suing opioid manufacturers

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis filed suit Wednesday against opioid manufacturers and distributors, claiming deceptive marketing and misleading statements contributed to the addiction crisis which has hit the city particularly hard.

Baltimore residents are more likely to die of a drug overdose than those of nearly any city in the country and the deaths are overwhelmingly the result of an opioid, according to the lawsuit, filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

“In today’s lawsuit, the city seeks to force the manufacturers and distributors of these opioids to assist us in our efforts abate the effects of this epidemic,” Davis said in a statement. “These corporations were the root cause of the opioid epidemic and enabled and encouraged the escalation of this public health crisis.”

Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County previously filed suit in their respective circuit courts. Cecil County sued in federal court and the case was transferred with more than 100 others to be part of multi-district litigation in Ohio.

Baltimore, Harford and Montgomery counties have also announced an intention to file suit.

Like the previously filed state lawsuits, Baltimore’s alleges False Claims Act and Maryland Consumer Protection Act violations as well as negligence.

The suits accuse manufacturers of common prescription opioids, such as Oxycontin, of creating a narrative around pain treatment that encouraged use of their products to treat chronic pain and ignoring evidence of the likelihood of addiction. Distributors allegedly supplied opioids in quantities that should have been flagged as exceeding any legitimate market.

The defendants have denied the allegations in all of the lawsuits and stress their commitment to the appropriate use of their products and combating the opioid epidemic.

The Baltimore case is Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Purdue Pharma L.P. et al.

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