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Jackley Takes Lying Opioid Makers to Court

Opioid addiction must be polling well as a campaign issue in South Dakota. Yesterday Attorney General Marty Jackley filed suit on our behalf against drug makers Purdue, Endo, and Janssen. Jackley blames those corporate drug pushers for tricking South Dakotans into addiction:

“Pharmaceutical companies that knowingly and deceptively harm consumers must be held accountable,” said Jackley. “Misleading and deceptive marketing about the risks and benefits of opioids has fueled an explosion of addiction. We cannot ignore the devastating consequences of their actions as they are directly affecting South Dakota families and communities.”

The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies violated South Dakota’s Deceptive Trade laws, Medicaid Fraud statutes and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids. The allegations of false marketing included medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain opioids for the treatment of chronic pain. This behavior magnified the prescription of opioids and fueled opioid abuse in South Dakota. The falsity of each Defendant’s misrepresentation has been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[Office of the Attorney General, press release, 2018.03.14].

Jackley says the drug makers’ unbridled capitalist practices cost South Dakota millions of dollars:

In 2017, there were a total of 595,934 opioid prescriptions that included 39.3 million doses of opioids. In 2017, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services reported spending $20.2 million on payments to providers for substance abuse and other related treatment and these numbers continue to increase.

The manufacturer’s success in extending the market of opioid to new patients and chronic pain conditions has created an abundance of drugs available for non-medical and criminal use and fueled a new wave of addiction and injury.

Oh, those evil corporations! That’s what I like to hear from my gubernatorial candidates!

Coincidentally, the day before Jackley announced this lawsuit against opioid makers, Democrat Conor Lamb won a Pennsylvania Congressional district that went for Trump by 20 points. Among issues distinguishing Lamb from Republican opponent Rick Saccone was the government’s role in tackling opioid addiction:

Last year, when the mother of an opioid addict testified before Pennsylvania lawmakers, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone said he wanted to help. But he also said the government could only do so much, since it must make tough budgeting decisions.

…Saccone’s comments — video of which was shared by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge — show how conservatives’ typical emphasis on small government and tough-on-crime policies can be an uncomfortable fit for a drug epidemic in their own backyard.

…Saccone’s Democratic opponent, Conor Lamb, meanwhile, has said government needs to play a leading role in addressing the crisis, listing it first on the part of his website that outlines his priorities.

“There is a huge role for the government to play here,” Lamb said at the candidates’ final debate Saturday night. “Only the government can build those [treatment] facilities and fill them with beds and fill them with qualified staff. And only the government can have the health insurance programs to support these people” [Alex Seitz-Wald, “In Pennsylvania Special Election, Candidates Clash over How to Combat Opioid Crisis,” NBC News, 2018.03.05].

Last year, Jackley’s primary opponent, Rep. Kristi Noem, applauded Donald Trump’s “actions” to address the opioid epidemic. We’re still waiting for those “actions” to escape their mock quotation marks.

18 Comments

  1. Jeff Barth 2018-03-15

    Minnehaha County was solicited by a consortium of counties to join in a lawsuit vs these drug companies. We chose not to although I favored it.
    Alas, our primary drug issue is meth.
    There have been opioid overdoses here and lately we have had an increase in heroin.

  2. mike from iowa 2018-03-15

    Don’t tell me, let me guess- Jackley waited to file suit in the middle of his campaign for Guv so he could show Dakotans how he is working to protect the ones that haven’t died from opioid overdoses, yet.

    No way he could have done this any sooner? Any reason more citizens had to die or become addicts before the suit was filed? Was this announcement made from a “Convenience” store?

  3. Jeff Barth 2018-03-15

    He has been very busy blocking Obama in court until last year.

  4. Ryan 2018-03-15

    I think some attention should be paid to all the doctors in our state who prescribe hardcore drugs to people with only a cursory examination of the person and their symptoms. I’ve seen it in my own family, and people I work with have told me scary stories of doctors just writing prescriptions left and right that don’t make sense and don’t address the actual symptoms the patient is experiencing. Recently, a person in my office told me that they called to ask their doctor why he would prescribe an antibiotic for a viral infection in an infant. The doctor told this person, “Well, you don’t have to make your infant take it if you don’t want.” Many of them are clueless. Drug companies run this country, and lazy doctors help them do it.

    It seems normal that people want to trust that their doctors are doing the right things but that’s what most people also think about their local politicians, but the sad reality is a lot of them have no idea what they are doing.

    Prescription drugs are a lot bigger problem than people want to talk about because Sanford and Avera are too big too fight and because a lot of the “good” conservative people who typically vote and influence the social and political environments in South Dakota refuse to admit that they are taking hardcore drugs at the suggestion of anything less than the best doctors in the world. It’s funny to me how many people will sit back in their recliner talking about the drug problem in the U.S. while they take twenty pills a day to battle bogus conditions or to get high legally while judging people who get high illegally.

    And Jeff is definitely correct – the meth issue is a lot more concerning than any other drug issue I see in our state, but we keep wasting state and local resources on fighting things like underage tobacco use and marijuana. At least we as a state are consistent – our priorities are out of wack in every category that I can tell.

  5. Ryan 2018-03-15

    Same. I just think the attention drug companies are getting for being crooked should be shared with our lazy and scary healthcare providers.

  6. Jeff Barth 2018-03-15

    Ryan,
    Wonderful and very appropriate points!
    Many times I have heard people complain ,”I went to the doctor and he didn’t give me anything.” Patients want pills. And more pills.

    Years ago I went to my doctor because my gut hurt. He said “We can do exploratory surgery or… you can let your belt out a notch.” (it worked!)
    A Great Doctor!!

  7. Richard 2018-03-15

    Actually SD MDs do not prescribe an above average number of these opioid analgesics (at least according to Medicare stats). If you go the the ProPublica website and look around you can find prescription information for every drug, provider, specialty and state. On the whole prescriptions for meds like Vicodin, Fentenyl, and pure hydrocodone are pretty low. There are a few MD prescriber outliers who seem to prescribe more than statistically expected, but the numbers aren’t bad.

  8. Francis Schaffer 2018-03-15

    Did Marty really say almost 600,000 opioid rx’s in 2017, in South Dakota? How many in each prior year back to 2010 I wonder?

  9. bearcreekbat 2018-03-15

    Wait just one second. Haven’t we learned from the gun debate that more or stricter gun laws won’t help solve any problem with gun deaths? Why would we think more or stricter laws on opioids would do any better in solving opioid deaths?

    Restrict access to opioids and only criminals will have opioids. What about law abiding citizens who want to use opioids? And if we outlaw or restrict access to opioids (or AR-15’s for that matter) someone who wants opioids badly enough will find them anyway.

    Or maybe Jackley is on to something and has concluded that prohibition and restriction of a dangerous item (are you listening AR-15s?) might actually reduce deaths. Oh-oh!

  10. bearcreekbat 2018-03-15

    Or that gun manufacturers should be held accountable in the same manner?

  11. mike from iowa 2018-03-15

    I can’t see anyone wanting AR-Opioids for that quick follow up shot or thirty.Come to think on it, it may be that quick follow up shot(s) with opioids that cause all these OD’s.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-16

    I keenly appreciate Bearcreekbat’s analogy between drugs and guns.

    Perhaps the Democratic candidate for attorney general, Randy Seiler, should promise to sue gunmakers and the National Rifle Association:

    The gunmakers and the NRA that knowingly and deceptively harm consumers must be held accountable. Misleading and deceptive marketing about the risks and benefits of guns has fueled an explosion of gun violence. We cannot ignore the devastating consequences of their actions as they are directly affecting South Dakota families and communities.

    Gunmakers and the NRA have violated South Dakota’s Deceptive Trade laws and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of guns. The allegations of false marketing included broadcast and print advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain guns for classroom and self-defense. This behavior magnified the purchase and use of firearms and fueled gun violence and injuries in South Dakota. The falsity of each Defendant’s misrepresentation has been masked by the Defendants’ continued lobbying to prevent funding for scientific research on gun violence [hypothetical press release, our next Attorney General, October 32, 2018].

    Time to review those gun ads and look for violations of Chapter 37-24 on Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection!

  13. Ryan 2018-03-16

    BCB does bring up a great point, and it’s even more meaningful when you realize that most people who break drug laws only kill themselves – people who break gun laws often kill “innocent” third parties.

  14. Clyde 2018-03-16

    You know, the penalty of death for dealing drugs in the Philippines existed when I was there during that Vietnam thing…..apparently hasn’t solved the problem yet.

    At the time the druggies claimed you could buy anything you wanted in Olongapo City. Appears to me that maybe its time to look elsewhere for the cause of drug addiction.

  15. Francis Schaffer 2018-03-17

    Clyde,
    The cause of addictions has been scientifically research and the results are outlined, yet not commonly understood. It would take a long time to explain and I am not the correct person to do this so I am going to see if I can attach a video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsRMaqUKyME

    This is over 24 minutes long, yet it identifies the root cause of all addictions. Well worth the time in my opinion.

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