LA files lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The city of Los Angeles is taking action against prescription drug addiction, targeting the drug companies who make and sell opioids.

"Our complaint alleges a widespread pattern among these manufacturers throughout the United States for many years in which the manufacturers have engaged third party advocacy groups, have funded them, have engaged in marketing practices that are specific to doctors," said L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Those marketing practices have led to patients being over-prescribed, according to Feuer. The California Department of Health says over 23 million in the state were prescribed to opioids in 2016. There were 2,031 deaths attributable to opioid overdoses.

The opioid epidemic isn't just visible in doctor's offices. Mayor Eric Garcetti says opioid use has become rampant in homeless encampments throughout the city.

"There's 20 people in camp together doing the same drugs and quite often, it's opioids," said Garcetti.

The manufacturers named in the suit include Purdue Pharma L.P. and Endo Pharmaceuticals. Distributors McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen Corporation are also named. The lawsuit alleges these companies failed to report suspicious orders and misled medical professionals about the risk. Dr. Steven Steinberg with Kaiser Permanente says the key to preventing addiction is limiting the prescription.

"If somebody comes in for non-surgical pain, you want to give them the maximum of a three-day supply. That's it," said Steinberg. "Why three days? Because we know the risk of long term dependence or addiction rises after just three days."
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