Attorney files federal lawsuit against drug makers

UPDATE: A national trade association reacts to news of the lawsuit.

They say that prescription drug distributors aren’t the bad guys in the opioid crisis.

“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders. Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated. Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation.” — John Parker, SVP, Healthcare Distribution Alliance

Their points are as follows:

  • Distributors are logistics experts, tasked with the primary responsibility of delivering all medicines to licensed pharmacies and healthcare providers.
  • Distributors do not manufacture, prescribe, dispense or in any way, drive demand. Further, distributors cannot make medical determinations about patient care or provider prescribing.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is responsible for setting the annual production of controlled substances in the market, approving and regulating the entities allowed to prescribe and handle opioids, and sharing data with entities in the supply chain regarding potential cases of diversion.
  • Distributors report EVERY single opioid order to the DEA – whether it is suspicious or not. Greater communication and coordination with the DEA will help support real-time response against abuse and diversion where it occurs


CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Governmental agencies at the federal and state level are launching dozens of programs to deal with the opioid crisis in this country.

A Chattanooga attorney is filing a civil lawsuit in federal court against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

Ronnie Berke says “Almost every part of Hamilton County government is going to have some cost due to the opioid crisis.”

Attorney Ronnie Berke says a lawsuit will be filed in Federal Court within a week—a separate action from what is being pursued by district attorneys around the state.

He says their proposed action against manufacturers and distributors will be limited.

The local district attorney’s office is not part of that effort.

Berke says “Part of the reason we’re bringing this suit is not only to get Hamilton County reimbursed, because the taxpayers are subsidizing the side effects of these pills, not only to get the county reimbursed but we would like to see some rehab programs, set up so that we can get people off these drugs.”

Berke says that in Hamilton County in 2016 there were way more than a thousand prescriptions written for every 1,000 people.

There were 942 overdoses in 2015, and 59 deaths.

Many of those deaths are from illegal manufacturers…but that’s part of the overall opioid crisis.

Tommy Farmer “there’s still the large pink elephant in the corner. It’s still diverted, prescribe opioids. That’s still the number one killer. When we’re seeing those numbers decrease and they are going down significantly in terms of the amount of opioids being prescribed or diverted in our state doctor shopping numbers have fallen significantly.”

Berke “All of this was created by the drug industry intentionally. They were telling doctors at the beginning not only with our drug reps, but even with their ads in medical journals, that opioids were not addictive.”

Berke says what he’s doing is not a class action suit, but one designed to repay for untruthfulness by the pharmaceutical industry.

Categories: Chattanooga, Local News

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