Baltimore, Maryland Counties Sue Opioid Manufacturers

By Kelly Burch 02/07/18

"They were reckless, they were intentional, it was marketing, it was greed.”


Baltimore—which was considered the heroin capital of the country two years ago—has become the latest municipality to sue opioids manufacturers. And the city is taking its lawsuit a step further by naming two doctors at area pain clinics that city leaders say were operating as pill mills.

"They were reckless, they were intentional, it was marketing, it was greed,” said City Solicitor Andre Davis, a former federal judge, when he announced the lawsuit, according to Governing.

Opioids have killed 3,000 Baltimore residents in a decade. The city’s lawyers say that the area was particularly hard-hit, even as the entire country grappled with the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit names Purdue, Cephalon, Janssen, Actavis and Endo Health Solutions and distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. It also names two doctors: Norman B. Rosen and Howard Hoffberg.

In response, Rosen said that the idea that he was operating a pill mill was “absolutely ridiculous.” 

“People want a fight, I'll give them a fight,” he said. Rosen said that limiting opioids would hurt people who are in pain. "The whole opioid crisis is overstated,” he said.

In addition to the city’s lawsuit, Baltimore County has also announced its intention to sue opioid manufacturers. “The opioid crisis has led to a significant increase of overdoses from heroin and prescription drug abuse,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said earlier this month, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“The desire to increase profits on the part of drug companies is a leading cause of our nation’s health crisis,” he said.

Nearby Howard County is also taking steps to prepare a lawsuit that will help offset the “tremendous amount of resources that local jurisdictions have had to devote to the [opioid] crisis,” said county spokeswoman Deidre McCabe, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Recently, a federal judge overseeing hundreds of opioid-related lawsuits said that he will focus on resolutions rather than complex legal proceedings.

“About 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we’re meeting,” said U.S. District Judge Dan Polster of Cleveland, Ohio. “And in my humble opinion, everyone shares some of the responsibility, and no one has done enough to abate it.”

“My objective is to do something meaningful to abate this crisis and to do it in 2018,” the judge added. “I’m confident we can do something to dramatically reduce the number of opioids that are being disseminated, manufactured and distributed. Just dramatically reduce the quantity and make sure that the pills that are manufactured and distributed go to the right people and no one else.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.