Kentucky A.G. files lawsuit over off-label promotion of fentanyl lollipop, tablets by Teva

by Jim Orr

A lawsuit filed against Teva Pharmaceuticals alleges that the company illegally promoted its fentanyl products Actiq and Fentora in Kentucky, helping to fuel the opioid epidemic in the state. The lawsuit was filed by the attorney general of Kentucky, which has been one of the states most severely affected by the nationwide opioid crisis.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller that is about 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. The drug is approved by the FDA only to treat opioid-tolerant patients with severe pain, such as cancer patients.

According to the Kentucky lawsuit, Teva marketed the fentanyl lollipop Actiq and its fentanyl tablet, Fentora, to doctors as a treatment for patients with chronic pain who are not approved for the drug under FDA guidelines. Federal law prohibits drugmakers from marketing prescription drugs for these “off-label” uses.

In fact, the FDA specifically prohibited Teva from marketing Actiq and Fentora for the very uses that company was promoting in Kentucky, the lawsuit alleges. When it approved Actiq, the FDA barred Teva from promoting the drug for anything besides breakthrough cancer pain. The agency also refused to approve Fentora for use in patients with chronic pain, citing the risk of addiction and overdose associated with the drug for non-cancer patients.

However, Teva’s marketing campaign for Actiq and Fentora specifically targeted general practitioners and other physicians who do not routinely treat cancer patients. One sales rep for the company allegedly stated that 99% of her clients in Kentucky were pain specialists who wrote off-label fentanyl prescriptions for patients with moderate pain.

According to Kentucky attorney general Andy Beshear, Teva’s off-label marketing campaign for Actiq and Fentora caused the company’s sales in Kentucky to skyrocket. Over a period of 10 years, Beshear says that Teva sold a larger volume of opioid painkillers in the state of Kentucky than any other drugmaker.

Kentucky – one of the states that has been the hardest-hit by the opioid crisis – has also been at the forefront of litigation against opioid manufacturers. In addition to the state’s lawsuit against Teva, the Kentucky attorney general also filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over the company’s aggressive marketing of the opioid painkiller OxyContin.

Fentanyl Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you have lost a loved one to an overdose involving fentanyl, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer, the doctor who prescribed the drug, or the pharmacy that filled the prescription. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced fentanyl litigation attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and walk you through the first steps in filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed more lawsuits involving fentanyl than all other law firms in the U.S. combined. Our attorneys have also filed numerous cases involving other opioid painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and methadone.

For more information about filing a fentanyl lawsuit and to receive a free legal consultation, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following this link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.