Prescriptions drugs, vitamins, hormones, and other drugs left in the drug drop box in the lobby of the Juneau Police Department displayed on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. The state is suing prescription drug companies, accusing them of helping to fuel a drug crisis in the state. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Prescriptions drugs, vitamins, hormones, and other drugs left in the drug drop box in the lobby of the Juneau Police Department displayed on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. The state is suing prescription drug companies, accusing them of helping to fuel a drug crisis in the state. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

State sues drug companies over opioids

Attorney General: Deceptive marketing fueled crisis

Attorney General Treg Taylor filed a civil lawsuit on March 31, 2021, against opioid manufacturers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Cephalon, Allergan and certain subsidiaries, Alaska Department of Law announced.

The suit alleges that Teva and Allergan violated the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices Act by engaging in a deceptive marketing campaign that minimized the risks of opioids, especially the serious risks of addiction, and sought to convince doctors that there was a significant upside to their use for chronic non-cancer pain by exaggerating their purported benefits, the state’s law department said in a news release.

The suit alleges that Teva and Allergan failed to control their supply of opioids into Alaska, in violation of state and federal law, and lacked an adequate system to monitor orders and investigate, report, and refuse to fill orders that they knew or should have known were suspicious, according to the law department.

[Opioid crisis still cuts deep in Alaska]

Data recently disclosed by the Drug Enforcement Agency showed that from 2006-2014 Teva and Allergan alone supplied over 46 million opioid pills into the State of Alaska, according to the law department, and the state believes the increase in prescription opioids contributed to the spread of black market drugs in Alaska.

“Through this latest civil suit, we seek to hold these companies accountable for their conduct and the harm that they caused – and continue to cause – the State of Alaska, and to abate the public health epidemic that they helped create,” Taylor said in the release.

The state previously sued now-bankrupt opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt, according to the law department, and on Oct. 25, 2018, filed a lawsuit against opioid distributors McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Company.

Those companies moved to have that suit dismissed, but those motions were denied and that case is now moving toward trial, according to the law department.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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