The mayor of Newark in New Jersey announced that the city is suing several pharmaceutical companies for deceptive opioid marketing and advertising. These companies supposedly caused public nuisance and thrived at the expense of the city.

Newark's Civil Lawsuit

On Oct. 5, Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced that the city has filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey against several opioid-manufacturing pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuit was filed after an investigation on pharmaceutical companies' marketing of prescription opioids.

The lawsuit describes opioids as narcotics, which possess properties similar to heroin and opium. As such, although they can effectively reduce feelings of pain, they can also induce euphoric highs that could eventually lead to addiction. It is because of this that use of the drug has been highly regulated and restricted.

Deceptive Marketing And False Advertising

According to the lawsuit, when Purdue manufactured OxyContin during the mid-1990s, together with the other defending pharmaceutical companies, it changed the way people perceived opioids to expand their market and profits. They supposedly did so by describing how health care providers should place a higher importance on pain management. The effort led to the eventual widespread long-term use of opioids for pain management of chronic conditions such as arthritis, migraines, and back pain.

Through the years and as opioid prescriptions increased by 31 percent, the active ingredient in opioids, oxycodone, has doubled. The lawsuit further describes the companies' faults by stating how although in 2007 Purdue plead guilty for deceptive opioid marketing, they continue to spend millions of dollars in advertising while at the same time trivializing the risks of addiction.

Public Nuisance And Unjust Enrichment

As a result, the city of Newark suffered greatly the consequences of opioid abuse and addiction. In fact, a majority of Newark's overdose deaths in 2017 are attributed to both illicit and prescription opioid use. What's more, the addiction has driven crime rates in Newark, so much so that first responders are often armed with Narcan, a nasal spray used as an emergency treatment for suspected opioid abuse. This, of course, comes at the city's expense.

Calling the opioid epidemic an urgent public health crisis, Mayor Baraka states his commitment to protect the citizens of Newark from its effects.

"The impact of prescription opioids on Newark has been catastrophic," says Mayor Baraka. "Every aspect of our city has felt the severe ramifications of the opioid epidemic, not just the substantial financial impact, including all the services we provide to residents, including public health, public assistance, law enforcement, emergency care and services for families and children."

As such, the city seeks to make the companies financially accountable for their actions and to force them to discontinue their practices, which have led to their rise in profits at the people's expense.

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