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County Executive McCoy Announces New Litigation Targeting Opioid Distributors

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 11:23 AM

Builds on Historic Lawsuit Holding Manufacturers Accountable to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today unveiled the details of new federal litigation leveled against the distributors of opioids for their role in the addiction and overdose epidemic experienced throughout Albany County and the United States. The complaint alleges gross negligence in which companies ignored warning signs that an intentional oversupply of opioids were being diverted to the illicit drug market.

In making the announcement, County Executive McCoy was joined by attorneys Linda Singer and Donald Migliori of Motley Rice, and General Counsel of the County Executives Association Bob Nealon, who are assisting in the effort, which builds on the County's efforts to take on Big Pharma. The renowned law firm is also assisting the county with the historic lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers for deceptive practices, now in its second year.

"With this new litigation we're saying that the distributors of opioids, like CVS and Walgreens, do not get to wash their hands of this public health crisis. Just the opposite, we're alleging that they are equally responsible as the manufacturers and must be held accountable. They not only exploited the opioid epidemic, but even fueled it by oversaturating the market with these dangerous drugs that take tens of thousands of innocent lives each year and ignoring the warning signs of their diversion to the Black Market, all while getting rich on the backs of our people," said County Executive McCoy.

"In my capacity as President of the County Executives Association, it has been an honor to work side-by-side with the team at the pioneering law firm Motley Rice, now with this second lawsuit, as we fight for justice for Albany County residents and victims across this country," he continued.

"We are honored to continue to represent Albany County in its journey for justice and accountability from opioid companies we believe created the opioid epidemic in Albany County," said Motley Rice, LLC attorney Don Migliori. "Their work and diligence demonstrates dedication to all Albany County residents as they seek a long-term fix for the opioid crisis that has harmed so many of their own."

This new suit asserts that the defendants took advantage of the chronic pain mass market created by the opioid manufacturers in the mid-1990s, by conspiring with major manufacturers to create, expand and maintain it and flooded numerous communities without conducting due diligence required by law and regulations. The County's complaint asserts that defendants understood their responsibility, despite letters from the Drug Enforcement Administration reminding them of their duties to maintain effective controls against diversion and to design and operate a system to disclose suspicious orders.

Defendants named in the litigation include Walgreens Boots Alliance d/b/a Walgreen Co; CVS Health Corporation; Rite Aid Corporation; Rite Aid of Maryland, Inc; d/b/a Rite Aid Mid-Atlantic Customer Support Center, Inc; H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co; Rochester Drug Co-operative, Inc; Cardinal Health, Inc; Kinray, LLC; McKesson Corporation; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, among others.

Albany County has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic: In 2017, there were 33 overdose deaths from synthetic opioids including fentanyl, up from 16 death in 2016, and 39 overall opioid overdoses, up from 28 in the previous year. From 2014-2016, more than 140,000 opioid prescriptions were reported in Albany County, with an estimated population of 309,053. Nationally, there have been new records for overdose deaths set each year for the last 23 years, reaching a high of over 70,000 in 2017.

Click here to view the lawsuit [PDF]

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Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy