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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 7, 2017 04:30 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution Urging the Governor and Attorney General to File a Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies Responsible for Causing the Opioid Crisis
In the near future I will reintroduce House Resolution 943 to urge the Governor and the Office of Attorney General to file a lawsuit against opioid drug companies that caused the state and national opioid crisis. We are facing the tragic loss of a generation of our citizens. In very tight budget times, we continue to earmark tens of millions of dollars to fight the scourge of heroin and opioid abuse. The financial toll of this epidemic will continue to rise.

The pharmaceutical companies mislead the public about the addictiveness of the powerful prescription opioid drugs and are engaged in fraud, conspiracy and negligence in the development and marketing of these drugs. These companies use sophisticated marketing tactics, make payments to doctors and utilize highly deceptive and misleading science to reverse the medical community’s understanding of the dangers of widespread opioid use. These pharmaceutical companies know that prolonged use of opioids are addictive and subject to abuse but they put profits above all. These tactics resulted in billions of dollars in profits and these companies will not stop peddling their opioid drugs unless we stop them.

Marketing efforts by these companies—and not any medical breakthrough—rationalized prescribing opioids for chronic pain and opened the floodgates of opioid use and abuse. American doctors prescribed 300 million prescriptions of opioids in 2015 equaling $24 billion and 80% of the global opioid supply. In Pennsylvania there were 10,394,466 prescriptions for opioid in 2015. The Commonwealth is in the midst of an opioids and heroin epidemic causing thousands of overdose deaths and destroying communities and families. The crisis in Pennsylvania is soo troubling that recently NBC News reported from Wilkes Barre where the death rate is four times higher than New York City. The Luzerne County Coroner told NBC that he doesn’t have enough cooler space for all the bodies.

Like everywhere else in this Commonwealth, the citizens I talk to are mad as hell and they want the companies responsible for creating this crisis to pay for it. States have historically filed lawsuits against industries who engage in illegal business practices, like the tobacco industry in the 1990’s, in order to protect its citizens. My resolution recommends any funds recovered in a lawsuit or settlement be used to fund drug, alcohol and mental health treatment. If we succeed we can take a significant step to change the behavior of these companies and hopefully halt this epidemic.

I implore you to join me and cosponsor this Resolution.

Introduced as HR363