Rosebud, Flandreau and Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribes allege they sold addictive drugs without warning of their dangers.
The tribes have targeted drug makers Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergen PLC and distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.
The tribes’ allegations align with those made in other opioid industry cases – fraud, deceptive marketing and RICO Act violations – but it’s one of the first to tie those claims to the opioid crisis’ disparate impact on Native American populations.
The complaint notes that one in 10 Native American youth 12 or older uses opioid pain medications for non-medical reasons, double the rate for whites. Native Americans also have higher rates of overdose.
Brendan Johnson, the former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota and co-counsel for the tribes said
This epidemic has overwhelmed our public-health and law-enforcement services, drained resources for addiction therapy, and sent the cost of caring for children of opioid-addicted parents skyrocketing. This is a crisis that affects virtually every Tribal member in the state.
The 106-page lawsuit outlines a wide range of deceptive marketing, including the use of misleading advertisements, paid speakers who addressed small groups of doctors and direct-to-doctor marketing.
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