Wisconsin lawsuit blames drug makers for opioid crisis

A federal lawsuit is pointing fingers at who is responsible for Wisconsin's opioid crisis.

Nearly two dozen of the state's counties say "nefarious and deceptive" marketing campaigns from pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the nation's opioid overdose epidemic.

The law firms of Crueger Dickenson and Simmons Hanly Conroy filed lawsuits Tuesday on behalf of 28 counties that says local governments' health and law enforcement services are strained.

"These companies' aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioid painkillers as safe applications for long-term use has led to a drug epidemic in both Wisconsin and around the nation," said Erin Dickinson, an attorney with Crueger Dickinson law firm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 52,000 Americans died in 2015 from drug overdoses. Most of them involving prescription opioids or related illicit drugs such as Fentanyl and Heroin.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions, Inc., and subsidiaries of the companies.

"Overdoses are just the tip of the iceberg, however, county governments are bearing the brunt of the cost of this crisis," said Dickinson. "Defendants must be held responsible for the devastating effects their actions have had both in Wisconsin and around the country."

The lawsuit claims in Wisconsin more than 1,800 people died from opioid overdoses from 2013 to 2015.

Dane County is not one of the counties involved in the lawsuit.

Purdue Pharma released a statement saying it denies the allegations, Endo Health Solutions says it can't comment on pending litigation and Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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