Lawsuit Over Skyrocketing Health Insurance Costs Due to Opioid Crisis

On May 2, 2018, class action suits were filed in five federal courts (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) against opioid makers and distributors, including Purdue Pharma and McKesson Corp., Cephalon Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. (“Defendants”). The complaints allege that health insurance premiums are ballooning due to the national opioid epidemic which has been fueled by Defendants’ aggressive marketing and promotion of opioids.

The New Jersey complaint was filed by, Lou Sardella (“Plaintiff”), on behalf of individuals and businesses in the state who have bought private health insurance and have seen their premiums skyrocket due to the cost of the opioid crisis. The complaint alleges that private insurance claims related to opioid dependence in New Jersey grew over 3,200% between 2007 and 2014, and that health insurers have paid for opioid prescriptions that should never have been written and for the cost of treating addiction and other related costs. Sardella’s complaint asserts that health insurers (who were not named in the complaint) have transferred the rising costs resulting from the Defendants’ conduct to their customers in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

“These higher insurance costs are the result of the companies’ allegedly deceptive marketing of the risks of opioids, and distributors turning a blind eye to the amount of opioid pills flooding the supply chain. Each year, opioid abuse imposes approximately $55 billion in health and social costs across the country, and it also imposes approximately $20 billion in costs for emergency and inpatient care,” the Plaintiff alleged.

Since 2015, Sardella’s monthly premium with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has risen from under $400 to almost $500.

Sardella’s complaint alleges violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Racketeering Influenced a Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as claims for public nuisance, unjust enrichment and negligence.

The proposed class in the New Jersey suit includes individuals and companies who have bought health insurance policies from 1996 to the present, and anyone who has paid for any portion of employer-provided health insurance from 1996 to the present, according to the complaint.

The legal team at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah (“SFMS”) has significant experience litigating class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier ( or Chiharu Sekino ( We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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Field, Emily. “Opioid Cos. Sued Over Ballooning Health Insurance Costs.” Law360. Last Modified on May 2, 2018.