Nonprofit Workers Compensation, Health Insurance Providers IRMA and IPBC Seek Damages From Opioid Epidemic in First-of-its Kind Illinois Lawsuit
Today, two Illinois-based nonprofit risk pools, who provide more than 203 local municipalities and other public entities with cost-effective workers’ compensation and employee healthcare insurance, filed a joint lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against leading opioid manufacturers, distributors, professional associations, and prescribers. It is the first opioid lawsuit brought by insurance risk pools in Illinois.
The Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA) and Intergovernmental Personnel Benefit Cooperative (IPBC), represented by Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC, seek injunctive relief and financial compensation from defendants to recoup substantial costs resulting from the far-reaching impact of the over-prescription and abuse of opioid medication. IPBC’s costs include vast expenditures on hospitalizations due to overdose, addiction treatment services, and overdose reversal medications, while IRMA has paid millions of dollars in cases involving injured workers who were unnecessarily given long-term opioid prescriptions to treat chronic pain.
The suit alleges opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Allergan, and Teva, engaged in aggressive and deceptive marketing campaigns; distributors including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson failed to act as gatekeepers against overprescribing the addictive narcotics; professional organizations including Chicago-based American Academy of Pain Medicine and American Pain Society deceptively promoted the use of opioids for chronic pain management; and suburban Chicago doctors Paul Madison and Joseph Giacchino served as “pill mills,” doling out opioids to anyone who came through the door of their clinic.
The suit alleges that the defendants’ plan to flood the Illinois market with opioid medication worked: in 2015, eight million opioid prescriptions were filled in Illinois, the equivalent of 60 prescriptions per 100 people.
The lawsuit is the latest step in a proactive multi-pronged strategy IPBC and IRMA have enacted to address and reduce opioid abuse in their members’ employee communities.
“This lawsuit is about real costs incurred directly as a result of the opioid epidemic. We have seen fully employed, respectable public employees with work injuries who were prescribed opioids unnecessarily and became addicted, ultimately rendering them unable to return to work and costing our members millions,” said IRMA Executive Director Margo Ely. “Opioid abuse and addiction has cost our members through not only lost productivity, but very sad stories of lost careers and lives.”
“As a taxpayer-supported health insurance provider to public entities across Illinois, we have a fiduciary obligation to aggressively seek to recoup the millions of dollars in claim costs that have been wasted due to over-prescription of opioid medications and addiction treatment,” said IPBC Executive Director Dave Cook. “The impact of long-term opioid use and abuse has been significant to our organization financially, and to many of our members who have suffered as a result of defendants’ egregious behavior.”
A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.
Founded in 1979, the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA) was the first municipal risk pool in Illinois, and today, provides comprehensive risk management services, including workers’ compensation coverage, for 72 municipal groups in northeastern Illinois.
The Intergovernmental Personnel Benefit Cooperative (IPBC) is a public risk entity pool established in 1979 by Chicago area municipalities to administer some or all of the personnel benefit programs offered by participating members to employees and retirees. These benefit programs include, but are not limited to, medical & dental payments and life insurance.
About Edelson PC
Edelson PC is a national leader in plaintiffs’ class, mass, and governmental actions. Law360 has called the firm a “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar,” a “Plaintiffs Class Action Powerhouse,” and one of the “Consumer Protection Practice Groups of the Year” for 2017 and 2018. Based in Chicago and San Francisco, Edelson has recovered billions of dollars in relief for its clients. www.edelson.com
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