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New York Legislators Taking Legal Action Against Drug Manufacturers

November 21st, 2014

Drug manufacturers are making billions of dollars in profit developing and distributing painkillers that are both highly effective and highly addictive. The end result has been a dramatic surge in opioid-related deaths and crimes in the last several years, and legislators in New York and around the country are trying to get control of the situation. Their approach? Suing the companies for aggressively marketing medications that have caused what they call an addiction epidemic.


Suits have already been filed by Orange and Santa Clara counties in California and the city of Chicago, and now a resolution has been introduced by Long Island legislator Rob Calarco that would have the county attorney’s office file suit as well. Though it is unclear whether the New York suit would be filed individually or as part of a larger class action suit, Calarco says the action is a response to a growing crisis.


“We have to deal with the ramifications of people getting hooked,” he said. He explains that concurrent with a brutal oxycodone-drive multiple murder in Medford, New York, the state introduced the I-STOP initiative that provided pharmacists, doctors and other prescribers with a way to monitor whether patients were doctor-shopping for painkillers. I-STOP stands for Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Prescription Monitoring Program. It requires healthcare practitioners to consult the system when writing prescriptions for controlled substances, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Though the program has been successful in preventing the over prescribing of the addictive drugs, it has had the inadvertent effect of turning the addicted to other opiates such as heroin.


A particularly frustrating aspect of the problem is that while legislators try to solve their growing community problems, the drug companies continue to develop additional and more addictive drugs. That is the reason for the new legislation. According to Calarco, “What we will argue is that they know of the very high potential for these pills to become addictive and they have basically put it out there that these medications can be used for treating long-term chronic pain. And you’re talking about addictive painkillers, which have less and less effect as times goes on. You’re doing something akin to what the tobacco companies did, not telling the public what the full ramifications are. And on our end, we have to deal with the ramifications of people getting hooked.”


The goal of the lawsuit is not to prevent companies from developing and manufacturing the drugs, but instead to have them provide funding for addition treatment programs in the communities that are most impacted. According to Legislator Dr. William Spencer, doctors have to write for pain medications when people are suffering or are recovering from surgeries, but responsibility has to be taken by the drug companies for long-term impact. “You’re making billions in profit and there is a utility to what you are doing, but (addiction) is a problem and it’s placing a major burden on families. You can’t just do research and development and not be a partner.”

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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