On April 7, Endo International plc announced that it received a default judgment against its subsidiaries Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. by a Tennessee state court over a lawsuit filed on behalf of a baby who was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in 2015.
NAS is a combination of ailments, which is often caused when a baby is withdrawn from certain drugs that he/she is exposed to in the womb before birth. It is often caused when a woman regularly uses opioids during pregnancy.
In January, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in which researchers indicated that the rates of NAS and maternal opioid-diagnosis (MOD) increased by 82% and 131%, respectively, in the U.S. during 2010-2017.
The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County at Kingsport, Tennessee in 2017. Allegations were made by three Tennessee District Attorneys General and an individual plaintiff that the company violated Tennessee's Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA) by illegally marketing the drug and fueling the nation's opioid crisis.
In a December 2020 ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state's District Attorneys General cannot bring claims under the DDLA.
According to Chancellor E.G. Moody of the Sullivan County Circuit Court, who issued the order on Monday, the company failed to follow a 2018 discovery order, asking to produce records dating from 2007 over its knowledge of suspicious drug activities, like over-prescribing, its policies for potential abuse and diversion, and the volume of its opioids in the illegal drug market.
It further noted that the company did not search the files of any of its 86 Tennessee sales representatives, any of its 18 district managers overseeing sales in the state, or files of its compliance officers.
The order also states that the damages will be decided later for the lawsuit, which is seeking $2.4 billion on behalf of the baby.
The company asserted that it produced hundreds of thousands of additional documents, offering additional depositions at its own expense. The company stated that the order is procedurally, factually, and legally deficient and will seek review by the Tennessee appellate courts.