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The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a national trade group that represents national, regional and specialty drug distributors, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block New York’s new $100 million annual surcharge on opioid manufacturers and distributors included in the state’s 2018-19 budget to cover the costs of opioid addiction prevention, recovery and treatment.
In the complaint filed this month in the Southern District of New York, the trade group argues that the state’s “Opioid Stewardship Act” is unconstitutional because it blames drug distributors for a “complex public health epidemic” with “myriad actors.”
“The state has no right to single out distributors for punishment, at least not without due process,” the complaint says.
That due process is currently under way in courthouses across the country, with state and local governments having filed over 1,000 opioid-related lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies over the past year and a half. The complaint contends that New York’s surcharge punishes the “politically unpopular” drug manufacturers and distributors before that due process has played out.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pushed for the charge on opioid makers and distributors, arguing that since they helped create the opioid epidemic they should help deal with it. And he evidently wasn’t surprised by the news of the lawsuit.
“We have yet to be served, but it’s no surprise that Big Pharma will fight tooth and nail to avoid responsibility for the opioid epidemic they helped fuel,” said his spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
Legislation is pending in at least a dozen other states to tax the sale of opioids to provide consistent funding for drug abuse treatment and prevention, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (TIMES UNION [ALBANY], COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE [PASADENA])