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Reality Check: How big pharma allegedly duped doctors

Reality Check: How Big Pharma Duped Doctors (MGN){ }

We are digging deeper into a federal class action lawsuit that's taking on big pharma. Hospitals in our area, including Mobile Infirmary, are blaming drug makers for the opioid crisis and the billions it has cost them. NBC 15 News first broke this story Thursday night and tonight we investigate how the doctors you trust for advice may have been duped.

The number of prescriptions written for opioids in this country equals the adult population, but that hasn't always been the case. Before the 1990's, opioids were mainly used for end or life treatment or post-surgery.

"The pharmaceutical industry realized 'wow, suppose we could not only sell this for this small, limited thing. Instead of making a few million dollars a year, we could make billions if we could sell it for somebody with a bum knee or a bad back or neck pain and headaches.' And they set about to do that knowing full well the damage they would cause," said attorney Don Barrett.

But drug makers needed doctors to do their bidding says Barrett.

"And they would have doctors that would write articles about it. They would plant articles in scientific journals. And then the reps would say, ‘here have you read the latest scientific study that proves there's no addiction?' And it was a planted article written by the pharmaceutical industry. It shows on its face like it's some independent study. It's all a lie. It was just a great lie, a grand lie, huge lie, the big lie," said Barrett.

The class action names two dozen companies including Johnson & Johnson, Endo and Purdue, all of which deny the claims. A Purdue spokesperson told us today the company looks forward to presenting its defense.

Tomorrow night at 10, we continue our series on the opioid crisis. Find out why attorneys are putting drug makers in the same category as gang members and the mafia.

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