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North Las Vegas moves to sue opioid companies; third jurisdiction to file suit

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Local Government

North Las Vegas has become the latest Nevada jurisdiction to contract with a major Las Vegas firm in suing a troop of major pharmaceutical-grade opioid manufacturers and distributors.

City Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a contract with the law firm of Eglet Prince to sue several major pharmaceutical companies, making the city the third jurisdiction in Nevada to contract with the firm on a similar suit.

Robert Eglet, the lead attorney and partner at the firm, told council members that he thought the state’s municipal governments and counties had been hit hard by opioid abuse and over-prescription, and that it was the “very best liability case” he had ever seen against the industry.

“Counties and city governments and the services they provide to their citizens have been strained to the breaking point by this public health crisis,” he said.

According to the contract, the city will not be held liable if no recovery is obtained, and Eglet Prince would be awarded 25 percent of any damages awarded to the city.

The Clark County Commission and Reno City Council voted last year to enter into an agreement with the firm to sue opioid companies on their behalf. The Lyon County Commission will vote to enter into a contract with the firm next week, and Eglet said Henderson is also retaining the firm on a similar suit.

Eglet said that the firm has put aside $15 million to prosecute the case, and said the city would be better served by a Nevada law firm pursuing a case in-state as opposed to joining in a national suit in federal court.

“Your city will lose all control of your lawsuit and its ultimate resolution, and your city will be lost in the shuffle,” he said.

In a lawsuit filed on behalf of Clark County, the firm alleged that the “general, special and punitive” damages exceeded $15 million. That suit targeted several companies, including Purdue Pharmaceutical, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Allergan Pharmaceuticals, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

In a statement, Healthcare Distribution Alliance ( a trade group representing several of the targeted pharmaceutical companies) executive John Parker said that blaming distributors for how many prescriptions are issued "defies common sense."

"The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders," Parker said. "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.”

Nevada has the fourth-highest drug overdose mortality rate, 20.7 per 100,000 residents in 2010, and the state’s doctors write 94 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 residents. The CDC counted 619 drug-overdose deaths in the state in 2015.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt has previously warned cities — namely Reno — that entering into a lawsuit with an outside firm could jeopardize the state’s involvement in a multi-state suit against opioid companies. The city said in an agenda briefing that the suit wouldn’t interfere with any suit brought by the attorney general under the state’s deceptive trade practices law, and would focus on public health issues.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. to include a response from Healthcare Distribution Alliance.


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