Clark County Commissioners Add Their Big Pharma Lawsuit to More than 100 Others

It’s like the rising tide of the ocean—one after another, states, counties, cities and even hospitals are adding their lawsuits to a growing pile. As of December 2017, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed against major pharmaceutical corporations that manufacture, market or distribute opioid painkillers.

Why are these governments and companies filing these lawsuits? The claims are consistent—the fraudulent marketing practices of the pharmaceutical corporations have created financial burdens due to the addiction and overdose deaths of patients taking their drugs. There are also a few pharmaceutical distribution corporations on the list—in that case, the suits refer to the fact that these companies should have flagged and curtailed the outrageous and unjustifiable prescribing of addictive drugs by some of their customers.

The lawsuits seek compensation for the overwhelming expenses created by the addiction of millions of patients and deaths of hundreds of thousands over the last two decades.

Clark County’s Action

Clark County government offices.
Clark County government offices. (Photo by Hank Shiffman/Shutterstock)

On the 6th of December 2017, Clark County Commissioners approved the filing of their version of this lawsuit. That lawsuit was filed on December 7th, immediately after the motion was passed.

The Attorney General of Nevada, Adam Laxalt, was concerned that the county’s lawsuit might interfere with an investigation launched by a massive coalition of 41 states who have subpoenaed some of the same corporations to determine if these organizations engaged in unlawful opioid marketing and distribution practices. When the Commissioners determined that there would be no interference, they gave the county’s lawsuit a green light.

The Cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas are also considering similar lawsuits.

Who’s Included in the County’s Lawsuit?

Here’s a full list.

Pharmaceutical Corporations and their Subsidiaries:

  • Purdue Pharma, L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., and Purdue Pharmaceuticals, L.P.
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  • Cephalon, Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc.
  • Ortho-Mcneil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Allergan, PLC
  • Watson Laboratories, Inc.
  • Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC and Actavis Pharma, Inc.

Drug Distributors:

  • Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation
  • Cardinal Health, Inc.
  • Mckesson Corporation
  • Masters Pharmaceutical, LLC
  • C & R Pharmacy
  • Zoe Pharmacies

These companies develop, manufacture, market or distribute drugs like OxyContin, oxycodone, tramadol, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxymorphone—all opioids except for the painkiller tramadol.

Why is this Lawsuit Needed?

The Nevada Independent quoted Dr. Andrew Kolodny: “We’re in the midst of the worst drug addiction epidemic in United States history, but we are still massively overprescribing.”

That overprescribing continues despite guilty pleas from three top executives of Purdue Pharma that the company misled doctors and patients about the addictiveness and abuse potential of their products. In 2007, the company paid $634 million in fines and promised to revise their marketing practices but the damage had already been done. Doctors are still overprescribing as noted by Dr. Kolodny. Millions of people misuse these drugs and more than ten thousand lose their lives each year.

Scales of justice.

Lawyers and Attorney Generals are using the strategy of these lawsuits to force the pharmaceutical companies to pay for the job of cleaning up the wreckage resulting from their actions. A vast number of people became addicted to these drugs that their doctors didn’t even know were addictive because of the misleading messages from pharmaceutical corporations.

If justice is done and pharmaceutical companies are forced to turn over the profits they’ve raked in from their massive sales of painkillers, these funds could pay for drug rehabilitation and prevention activities. Then we could see the scales of justice balancing at last.



For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.