By Dani Kass
Law360, New York (September 27, 2017, 3:05 PM EDT) — The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund has filed a potential class action in Pennsylvania state court, joining a string of parties accusing Endo International PLC of fraudulently marketing its opioid painkillers as safe and effective for chronic pain.
The health fund on Monday claimed the Opana ER and Percocet maker furthered the opioid crisis by spending millions of dollars a year advertising its painkillers for long-term use despite having no proof that such use was effective and knowing there were severe addiction risks. The complaint alleges violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, unjust enrichment, breach of implied warranties and civil conspiracy.
“Despite well-recognized legal principles requiring Endo to be truthful and forthright in its representations regarding its pharmaceuticals, Endo has engaged in an intentional, decades-long pattern of deceptive and misrepresentative conduct that has impermissibly minimized the grave medical risks associated with utilizing opioids to treat long-term and/or chronic medical conditions,” the complaint states.
Between 2007 and 2013, Endo spent between $3 million and $10 million a quarter promoting its opioids — which also include Opana, Percodan and Zydone — for chronic conditions like aches and pains, headaches and backaches, the fund said.
The money was allegedly spent on traditional promotions like educational materials, advertisements and sending representatives to physicians, and also paying doctors to speak on its behalf to promote brand loyalty, paying doctors to write misleading studies, and swaying professional societies and patient-advocacy groups that are supposed to be neutral, the suit says.
This is the most recent of a long line of suits and investigations into Endo for its alleged role in the opioid crisis. The drugmaker is facing suits from Ohio, New York’s Suffolk County, Chicago, Missouri, the Oregon county that encompasses Portland and a potential class of investors, along with a multistate investigation from several state attorneys general.
Endo in July pulled Opana ER from the market following pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency had claimed Opana ER was linked to abuse and a spike in injection-related diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. Last year, the company made nearly $160 million off the drug.
Endo and counsel for the health fund didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The health fund is represented by Sol H. Weiss, David S. Senoff, Hillary B. Weinstein and Clayton P. Flaherty of Anapol Weiss.
Counsel information for Endo was not immediately available.
The case is Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, et al, v. Endo International PLC et. al, case number unavailable, in the Court of Common Pleas Philadelphia County.
–Additional reporting by Jeff Overley. Editing by Alanna Weissman.