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Chicago v. Purdue Pharma LP

2015 WL 2208423 (2017)

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Chicago v. Purdue Pharma LP

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

2015 WL 2208423 (2017)

Facts

In 1970, the federal government began to regulate opioid painkiller drugs as controlled substances with black-box labels warning about the potential for addiction and fatal overdose. In the 1970s and 1980s, the generally accepted medical-practice standards required that opioids be used only short-term for issues like acute pain, surgical-recovery pain, cancer, or palliative care. In the 1990s, Purdue Pharma LP and other pharmaceutical companies (pharmaceutical companies) (defendants) manufactured, promoted, and sold opioid painkillers, including OxyContin and Dilaudid, in the City of Chicago (the city) (plaintiff). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the approval of drug labels and promotional materials. However, the FDA did not usually review unbranded promotional materials that promoted a type of drug without identifying a particular drug by name. The pharmaceutical companies sought to avoid FDA regulation by creating a network of front groups to promote chronic-pain treatment with opioid products through unbranded promotional materials that used deception, consumer fraud, false pretense, false promise, and misrepresentation. The city brought suit, claiming that the pharmaceutical companies’ unbranded promotional materials promoting the use of opioid painkiller drugs violated the Chicago Municipal Code (the city code), which prohibited consumer fraud and deceptive business practices. The city also claimed that it paid the pharmaceutical companies for unnecessarily prescribed opioid drugs for off-label purposes under false pretenses through employee health plans in violation of the city code. The pharmaceutical companies moved to dismiss the city-code claims.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alonso, J.)

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