The City of Paterson is suing some of the country’s largest drug companies, saying they misled the public about how the dangers of prescription opioids.

Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law LLP announced Tuesday that it had filed the lawsuit on behalf of Paterson. The drug manufacturers listed as defendants are Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics.
It also names a number of wholesale distributors, including McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation and Cardinal Health.

Among its claims, the lawsuit states that the companies worked to deceive doctors and patients about the highly addictive nature of prescription opioids. The suit also claims that the opioid manufacturers targeted groups that the law firm called vulnerable, such as the elderly and war veterans.

The lawsuit accuses the companies of “taking a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook” to push its prescription opioids in the following ways:

  • Published misleading articles in medical journals, including publications aimed at doctors who commonly treat chronic pain.
  • Created a body of false and unsupported literature that appeared to be independent, peer-tested and objective.
  • Employed distinguished physicians to write, consult on and lend their names to articles that encouraged the use of opioids to treat chronic pain.
  • Sponsored continuing medical education courses that persuaded prescribing doctors that opioids were appropriate for pain relief and posed no serious threat of addiction.

City officials said Paterson was hit especially hard by the industry’s campaign of disinformation. According to the lawsuit, the epidemic has put a severe strain on Paterson’s resources, requiring substantial increases to the city budget for police, fire and other first responders.