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State Joins Cities, Counties in Opiate Lawsuit


Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford.

The State of Nevada has joined in litigation filed by Reno and Clark County against opioid manufacturers. Attorney General Aaron Ford announced today that the state filed an expanded complaint against more than 40 defendants.

“Through a systematic marketing campaign, sham ‘medical’ organizations, funded experts, and other shameful tactics, the defendants peddled false science designed to demonstrate that opioids were a safe, non-addictive treatment for pain,” Ford announced in a press statement. “The defendants furthered their wrongful conduct by encouraging doctors to treat addiction with more opioids and intensify the epidemic they created.

“Even when opioid deaths skyrocketed, the defendants simply redesigned their marketing campaign to continue to reap profits at the expense of Nevadans.”

The move contradicts previous A.G. Adam Laxalt’s reticence to join the City of Reno in litigation early last year.

Former Nevada
Attorney General
Adam Laxalt

“While this office commends the determination to protect Reno residents, we continue to believe Nevada is best positioned in the bipartisan multistate effort of 40 attorneys general,” said Monica Moazez, Laxalt’s spokesperson at the time (Moazez also serves as Ford’s communications director). “We hope that any lawsuits by local jurisdictions do not unintentionally undermine our ongoing bipartisan investigation.”

Reno signed a contingency agreement where, if combined in the suit with Clark County, law firms will assume legal costs, and municipalities would get a payout when, and if, the suit is settled.

“The state joins other Nevada entities who have pursued litigation,” Ford said. “While each has its own distinct damages and needs, entities across the state are united in seeking justice for those who have suffered at the hands of the defendants.”

Reno Mayor
Hillary Schieve

Mayor Hillary Shieve praised Ford’s complaint filed in Clark County District Court.

“Today we stand united as a state in our goal to stop harm in our communities,” she said.

Ford said that

manufacturer defendants include Teva Pharmaceuticals, Actavis Pharma, Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler family which controlled Purdue Pharma, SpecGX LLC, Mallinckrodt LLC, as well as top executives of Insys Therapeutics, and various entities created by manufacturers and their executives to hide assets and evade liability. Distributor defendants include McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health LLCs, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Walgreen Co., Walmart Inc., and CVS Pharmacy.

Washoe County
Vaughn Hartung

Sheriff Darin Balaam and Washoe County Commission Chair Vaughn Hartung praised the suit and announced their partnership in litigation.

“Washoe County has been greatly impacted by the opioid crisis,” said Hartung. “Here in Nevada, we are proud to stand united to fight this devastating crisis that has claimed far too many lives.

“In addition to litigation, Washoe County has responded by forming a substance abuse task force to continue to tackle this issue on all fronts.”

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.