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Dover joins the ranks suing Big Pharma

Delaware Public Media

The City of Dover is getting in line with other public bodies to sue the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the opioid crisis.

The plaintiffs have yet to be named, but Dover City Council approved a measure earlier this week to hire legal counsel to sue Big Pharma.

Many other governments across the country have made similar claims—including New Castle County and the State of Delaware. They allege drug companies were deceptive in their marketing of opioids and should compensate the cost to deal with the resulting public health emergency.

John Culhane is a Distinguished Professor of Law at Delaware Law School and Co-Director at the Family Health Law and Policy Institute. He says the claim is problematic.

“How exactly do you figure out what the additional cost is over and above what you would’ve spent anyway?” asked Culhane. “So, with police it could be particularly difficult, because the police are already on duty.”

Culhane also says it will be difficult to divide up the liability amongst the various defendants, and courts often don’t favor rewarding damages for economic loss alone.

But he also says one part of the Dover complaint alleges a violation of consumer fraud law.

“That gets you potentially $10 thousand per each violation. How you define a violation could be tricky, but that could amount to a lot of money,” said Culhane.

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