Suing drug companies over meth abuse

For a while now, lawyers in Minnesota, Oklahoma and elsewhere have been suing companies that make over-the-counter cold remedies containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine on the grounds that they were aware some buyers were using the drugs as raw material for illegal methamphetamine labs. Now such litigation appears to be gaining momentum in Arkansas, where many county governments have signed up to sue Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and other companies. “If successful, it could open up litigation against manufacturers of other produce used in making meth, such as drain cleaners and acetone.” (E. Alan Long, “Williams updates JPs on methamphetamine litigation”, Carroll County News, May 29; and see this, on anhydrous ammonia). As of last month, twenty-two counties had enlisted in the litigation, which seeks to recoup, among other things, money spent on the processing of criminal methamphetamine cases. “What more could we have done with a million dollars a year for our county? Would that have meant a half dozen more police officers? Would that have meant a better solid waste program? Who knows, what could your county have done with an extra million dollars,” asked Judge Bill Hicks of Independence County, a backer of the suits. (“Special Report: Meth Related Lawsuit Filed Against Pharmaceutical Companies”, KAIT, Aug. 1; Pharmalot via Childs)(& welcome Megan McArdle readers).


  • I’m waiting for the wrongful death suits against rope and/ plastic bag companies. After all, they must be aware that some people use their product to commit suicide.

  • What does the suit allege they should have done instead? Not sold cold medicine?

  • I’m in full agreement, however, the suits should be extended to include home builders, gas companies, and the electric suppliers because it’s well known that you need a roof over your head, lights, and heat to produce meth. They should have done more to stop em’

  • This is no good. It’s bad enough I have to sign in order to get OTC medicine that actually works for me, suing them out of existence is harsh. I wonder if they’ll sue HBO for the documentary on prison life where the convict basically gave the full recipe and procedure out next?

  • Obviously what we need is more warning labels.

  • Interesting. This is the exact same tactic that was used against firearms manufacturers that prompted Congress to pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that preempted these lawsuits. Maybe that needs to be a more general preemption for all legally sold products.

  • Before we rush to judge, let’s all keep in mind one important point: it’s not about the money.

  • If the suit wins ans I no longer have a way to get Sudafed, can I sue the the attorneys that brought this suit for pain and suffering.

  • Reminds me of The Onion’s people-on-the-street graphic regarding the 3 billion dollar tobacco settlement: “They should have sued Bic for making the lighter that made the cigarettes deadly in the first place.”

  • Sunshine and water are required to produce marijuana, giving yet another reason to sue God. I would add more but I gotta go exchange my syringes.

  • […] and pseudoephedrine because underground labs use them to make meth — be aware that it’s actually been tried, by public officials in the Midwest, often working closely with ambitious private […]