John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Newtown Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

At the December 12, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor of authorizing Marc J. Bern Partners, LLP, & Cordisco & Saile, LLC to file suit against the manufacturers, promoters, and distributors of synthetic prescription Opioid medications on behalf of Newtown Township.

The Complaint was filed in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas on April 24, 2019 (Docket NO. 2019-03043). It names a total of eighteen defendants (15 manufacturers and 3 distributors):

  1. Purdue Pharma L.P.
  2. Purdue Pharma Inc.
  3. The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.
  4. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  5. Cephalon, Inc.
  6. Johnson & Johnson
  7. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  8. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  9. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  10. Endo Health Solutions Inc.
  11. Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  12. Allergan Plc (formerly known as Actavis Plc)
  13. Allergan Finance, LLC (formerly known as Actavis, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  14. Watson Laboratories, Inc.
  15. Actavis LLC (Actavis Pharma, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharma, Inc.)
  16. Mckesson Corporation (distributor)
  17. Cardinal Health, Inc. (distributor)
  18. Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation (distributor)

The Township is seeking judgment on each of six "causes of action" against the defendants in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), jointly and severally. The total damages claimed are estimated to add up to just under $4 million!

NOTE: Newtown Township will NOT incur any expenses related to this suit and it will NOT be charged any attorney fees for filing the action no matter what the outcome. The law firms will work on a 25% contingency basis, meaning that 25% of any fees awarded to Newtown will be retained by the law firms and 75% - potentially (if the case is 100% successful) $3 million – will go to Newtown.
Six “Causes of Action”

The six causes of action are:

  1. Unfair Trade Practices. Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law because they engaged in deceptive acts or practices.

  2. Fraud. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents.

  3. Unjust Enrichment. As an expected and intended result of their conscious wrongdoing Defendants have profited and benefited from the health insurance coverage purchased by Plaintiff that directly funded the opioid purchases made by its residents and employees.

  4. Negligence. Distributor Defendants have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the distribution of opioids, as provided by state and federal law, to avoid, prevent, or attenuate third-party misconduct. Distributor Defendants breached this duty by failing to take any action to prevent or reduce the distribution of opioids, as required by state and federal law, and instead participated in and enabled Defendants' misconduct. As a proximate result, Distributor Defendants and its agents have caused Plaintiff to incur excessive costs related to diagnosis, treatment, and cure of addiction or risk of addiction to opioids, the Township has borne the massive costs of these illnesses and conditions by having to provide necessary resources for care, treatment facilities, law enforcement services, and child and family services for Township Residents and using Township resources in relation to opioid use and abuse. Additionally, the Township has suffered lost productivity from its workforce, thereby losing much needed tax revenue.

  5. Negligent Misrepresentation. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume opioids.

  6. Public Nuisance. Defendants made unreasonable and/or unlawful use of their financial resources in an improper, indecent, and unwarranted fashion to wage a massive campaign of misrepresentations and omissions of facts, negligence, and violation of state laws material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume lawful opioids for unlawful purposes.
Questionable Practices

The suit lists a number of “unlawful” or “deceptive” marketing and patient and physician educational practices of the defendants to bolster the Township’s case, including:

  • Like the tobacco companies that engaged in an industry-wide effort to misrepresent the safety and risks of smoking, Defendants worked with each other and with the industry-funded and directed Front Groups and KOLs [Key Opinion Leaders; mostly physicians] to carry out a common scheme to deceptively market opioids by misrepresenting the risks, benefits, and superior efficacy of opioids to treat chronic pain. [Read “Opioids Are the New Tobacco: Investigations of #Pharma Companies Taking Page from Tobacco Settlement of the 90's”]

  • Marketing dangerous and ineffective opioid drugs as safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic pain conditions in order to deceive physicians into prescribing addictive opioids to residents of Newtown Township;

  • Disseminating misleading statements concealing the true risk of addiction and promoting the deceptive concept of pseudoaddiction through Defendants' own unbranded publications and on internet sites Defendants operated that were marketed to and accessible by consumers in Newtown Township;
Purdue frequently cited a 1980 item in the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine, J. Porter & H. Jick, Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics, 302 (2) New Eng. J. Med. 123 (1980), in a manner that makes it appear that the item reported the results of a peer reviewed study. Defendants, through the KOLs acting on their behalf, failed to reveal that this "article" was actually a letter-to-the-editor, not a study, much less a peer-reviewed study.
  • Sponsoring, directly distributing, and assisting in the distribution of publications that presented an unbalanced treatment of the long-term and dose dependent risks of opioids versus NSAIDs;

  • Developing and disseminating misleading scientific studies that deceptively concluded opioids are safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic non-cancer pain and that opioids improve quality of life, while concealing contrary data;

  • Holding themselves out as law-abiding distributors but instead withholding from law enforcement the names of prescribers they knew to be facilitating the diversion and over-prescribing of their products, while simultaneously marketing opioids to these doctors by disseminating patient and prescriber education materials and advertisements and CMEs that Defendants knew would reach these same prescribers, violating Pennsylvania and Federal law by not reporting these doctors instead. [Read “How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids”]

The 107-page Complaint lists many more questionable practices and includes dozens of references to support the claims. Download it here.

Further Reading

Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids

Pennsylvania's Treasurer Says Big Pharma Must be Held Accountable for Its Role in Opioid Crisis

Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies

Newtown Township Joins Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Opioid Lawsuit Survey Comments

 

Posted on 30 Apr 2019, 12:42 - Category: Opioid Epidemic



Summary of April 10, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the April 10, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and member and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Owen Hyne and Township Solicitor David Sander. Absent: Kyle Davis.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Peggy Driscoll, Vice Chair of the Planning Commission reported that at its meeting on April 2, 2019, the only item on the agenda was the Revised amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance to amend provisions of Office Research District to add new use (E-25, Motor Vehicle Fueling Center).

The Commission recommended that the Supervisors consider this ordinance, not as written, and move forward. Ms. Driscoll stated that this recommendation was not unanimous.

Mr. Mack asked to clarify what is meant by “consider not as written but move forward." Mr. Sander explained this is a use that is now recognized by the courts and has to be provided for within the Jointure so that right now the ordinance doesn’t have provisions for a motor vehicle fueling center or gas station/convenience store combined use. The recommendation is the township move forward with an ordinance to deal with that legality, but not necessarily this ordinance as written.

Ms. Driscoll said it was the applicant that crafted this ordinance and much of it does not coincide with our ordinances. The commission recommended the applicant go back and consider some of the recommendations made by the commission. Mr. Calabro suggested to create the usage within the jointure and then form our own ordinance. Mr. Sander recommends the Township reach out to the Bucks County Planning Commission and their partners in the jointure to determine any resources that can help the township establish the use and provide for it.

Development

Arcadia Professional Consultants Fee Lawsuit - Authorization to File Appeal : Mr. Mack asked if any details could be provided. Mr. Sander said there is a portion of decision received that the judge stated that we disagree with and we want to protect the township going forward with regard to charging professional fees in PRD cases.

[The following questions/concerns were prepared by Supervisor Mack before the BOS meeting with the intent of bringing them up at the meeting. However, these questions/concerns may NOT be included in the official minutes. View the official video of the meeting for details.

"I assume that this appeal is response to a lawsuit filed by Arcadia that was reported in A Feb 5, 2018, article published in the Bucks County Courier Times, which states that Arcadia asked a county judge to determine whether it must pay back the township $39,866 in fees it – the Township - paid for solicitors and consultants to review the developer’s proposal. According to the article, Arcadia also requested a court order for the township to return $17,132 of the developer’s $19,375 submitted cash escrow, which the township previously spent on expert review."]

Conditional Use - Iron Hill Brewery: Application of Iron Hill Brewery LLC for conditional use to operate an E-5 eating place at 2920 S. Eagle Road in the Village of Newtown. Attorney Joseph Blackburn represented the applicant. Mr. Calabro thanked Mr. Blackburn for addressing the parking issues. Mr. Fisher, in reference to the outside music, asked if there was a possibility for dual controlled volume and Mr. Blackburn confirmed that this was part of the proposal. [Mr. Calabro] asked if there was a way to reduce the outdoor seating area and after Mr. Blackburn discussed with Mr. Finn, who is representing Iron Hills, it was determined they could reduce the outdoor area by 20 seats.

Public Works

Pollutant Reduction Plan: Mr. Hyne reviewed the Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP). The Township has three impaired watersheds, Neshaminy Creek, Lake Luxembourg and Core Creek, The Township must reduce 202,252 lbs. of sedimentation per year for five years and will be implemented by basin and meadow conversions, inlet cleaning and stream restoration projects. Mr. Hyne provided a map to show targeted areas. This plan must be authorized by the Board and then be publicly advertised for public comment for 30 days, After this time frame the plan will go to DEP for approval.

Mr. Calabro asked if we have enough township basins that can be converted to meadows to reduce by 10%. Mr. Lewis clarified that the seven township owned basins will be converted to meadows along with under-utilized park areas. The manicured grass areas will be transformed into meadow areas which will also reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Mr. Lewis believes the meadow and basin conversions will start this year

Public Safety

Newtown Township Complex Emergency Action Plan: Mr. Lewis explained that the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is required by our insurance carrier. Chief Forsyth presented the EAP which was written in compliance with NFPA Standard 3000 Definition and Homeland Security standards. Chief Forsyth is looking for the Board’s approval of the EAP so staff training can begin. The purpose of the EAP is to ensure staff is trained and prepared for any critical incidents that may occur. Mr. Mack asked if the Board would be trained and Chief Forsyth said yes they could be. The motion passed 4-0.

[The following questions/concerns were prepared by Supervisor Mack before the BOS meeting with the intent of bringing them up at the meeting. However, these questions/concerns may NOT be included in the official minutes. View the official video of the meeting for details.

Page 11: “Violent Incidents/Active Shooter”: This report does not specifically mention Supervisors, advisory Committee members, ZHB members, etc. at Public meetings – I am concerned about active shooter incidents at such meetings.

Page 12, Under “FIGHT” – says “be prepared for the fight of your life” and gives some pointers such as “try to attack the shooter's eyes and face” with “whatever makeshift weapon is available (pocket knife, scissor, screw driver, keys, etc.).”

Shouldn’t Supervisors, committee members – as well as employees – be trained in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate)? According to the
ALICE Training website, the "Counter" aspect of the training does not involve confronting the active shooter: "ALICE Training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of those involved. Counter is a strategy of last resort. Counter focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Creating a dynamic environment decreases the shooter’s chance of hitting a target and can provide the precious seconds needed in order to evacuate."]

Police Report: Police Chief John Hearn reported during March the Department responded to 1,846 calls including 53 traffic accidents and 15 arrests, 4 were DUI related. There were 319 traffic citations issued, 78 which resulted from the aggressive driving campaign. Read "March 2019 Police Report: Crack Down on Aggressive Driving!"

 

Posted on 26 Apr 2019, 10:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Attracting New Businesses to Newtown

I'm often asked, What will you do to attract new businesses and new jobs to our municipality?

This is an important question because to maintain a low 4.5 mill property tax while providing the excellent services our residents have come to expect, the Township depends on business-related sources of income such as the Earned Income Tax (EIT Definition), which accounts for nearly 80% of its tax revenue!

As a member of the Newtown Board of Supervisors, I voted to create the Newtown Finance Committee, which is in the process of helping Newtown Township attract employers/jobs and pursue economic development.

I also supported the Township’s application for a matching $40,000 PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED Definition) grant to implement an Early Intervention Program (EIP Definition) that will assess the township's financial condition and identify additional sources of income, including attracting new businesses with high-paying jobs to Newtown (read “Newtown Township Seeks Grant to Assess Finances”).

I will continue to work with local business associations, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and Newtown Township's Finance Committee to promote our community as a great place to establish businesses with high-paying jobs.

We Need This Kind of Promotion!

Posted on 12 Apr 2019, 01:15 - Category: Finances



Summary of March 27, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the March 27, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Development

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 2930 South Eagle Road: Mr. Sander noted one scenario has changed since conditional use was granted at last meeting (read "Summary of March 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting"). The original unit number was Unit 40 at the end of Building 8; this was an error on their part which they have corrected to reflect Unit 37, located in the middle of building 8. It is similarly situated and there is no substantive adverse impact on granting conditional use and approval is recommended. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Issues

Finance Committee/DCED EIP Grant: The application for match grant was submitted on March 15, to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED Definition). [Read "Newtown Township Seeks Grant to Assess Finances".]

Mr. Jack Brod, chair of the Newtown Finance Committee, reported the committee met with senior representatives from two agencies, Bucks County Redevelopment Authority and the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority. Both agencies are interested in helping Newtown Township attract employers/jobs and pursue economic development.

Mr. Brod inquired if the RFI would be the next step to get to the stage to issue RFP's. Mr. Calabro raised concerns about issuing the RFI without knowing the scope of work and issuing RFP's without advertising them.

Mr. Mack stressed that he would like to be more involved with the process including formulating questions for consultants and the grants in general. He wants to be sure that he and the supervisors have an opportunity to look over and edit all documents that carry their signatures. Mr. Brod said this is why the committee is not issuing anything directly.

Public Works

Bid Recommendation for the 2019 Liquid Fuels Road Program: The Board discussed a motion to award to Harris Blacktopping, Inc., The Base Bid, Alternate Bid No. 2 and Alternate No. 3 in the amount of $706,596.20 for 2.73 miles of roadway. Mr. Mack asked about alternate roads included and Ms. Colubriale said the two alternates awarded were Terry Drive and Blacksmith Road.

Mr. Mack also read we were awarded $611K in Liquid Fuels Program Definition funding when we expected $640K [read "Newtown Township Will Receive $611K In State Liquid Fuels Payments"]. Mr. Lewis clarified that $640K was budgeted under the liquid fuels fund and the township received $611K from the state and anticipated $595K. The motion passed 5-0.]

Prepared Statements by Supervisor Mack

Newtown Fire Association General Meeting: Dennis Fisher and I attended the Newtown Fire Association (NFA) General Meeting last night. Matt Gerhard, Chief of the NFA, communicated to me that he would like to attend the April 10th Board of Supervisors meeting, if possible, to answer any questions about the NFA’s formal response to Dr. Carter’s recommendations and the progress we have made so far. He plans on providing a copy of said responses to the BOS the week prior for review. If it is appropriate, he is available to meet beforehand with the NFA BOS liaison, Mr. Lewis and Chief Forsyth to briefly go through their response.

After the meeting, Dennis and I met Lieutenant Liz Ellis who gave us a personal tour of the NFA museum. She explained to us how firefighters find the location of alarms and especially how hydrants are located and the technology available to ensure that there is adequate water pressure at fire locations.

Technology Committee: Four members of the Technology Committee met last night. On the agenda was re-organization and a Webex demonstration of SAVVY CITIZEN, which is a calendar and mass notification system that enables local governments to relay important information to their citizens. The Committee did not elect a Chair at this meeting, but preferred to wait until additional members could be present. At this time there is one vacancy to be filled on the Committee – if interested, please contact the Township – and one member who seems to be inactive and unreachable.

The Savvy Citizen app, which anyone can download to his or her phone for free, is competitive with NIXLE, which was discussed at a previous BOS meeting, but the subscription fee is considerably less – about $2500 per year vs. $6000 for NIXLE. The Committee expressed interest in this app and may wish to make a presentation at a further BOS meeting.

Posted on 11 Apr 2019, 14:06 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



March 2019 Police Report: Crack Down on Aggressive Driving!

Police Chief John Hearn presented the Calls Report for March 2019 at the April 10, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In March, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,846 total calls, 338 (18%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

Crack Down on Aggressive Driving

The Newtown Police Department along with 63 other municipal police departments in surrounding counties are participating in a campaign to crack down on aggressive driving. The campaign officially started on March 18, 2019 and will continue through April 28, 2019.

As a result of that campaign, there were a total of 305 traffic citations issued by the Newtown Police Department in March, 63 (20%) were in Wrightstown. Over 50% of those citations were for speeding (31 on Swamp Road). See the chart:

Traffic Citations in Newtown and Wrightstown Issued by the Newtown
Police Department for the period January through March, 2019.
Struck Deer

There were 20 police incidents involving struck deer in March 2019 compared to 8 in February. Chief Hearn offered no explanation for the surge, but a resident noted that she recently has seen deer crossing the Newtown Bypass. It is not known if there is any connection between the two, although it is thought that the deer were “crossing at the green, not in between.”

Thank You Lieutenant Jason Harris!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

At the April 10, 2019 Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Lieutenant Jason Harris was presented with a plaque acknowledging the Board’s appreciation for the job he did as Interim Chief of Police from July 2018-March 2019. Nice job Lieutenant Harris!

A post shared by John Mack Newtown Supervisor (@johnmacknewtown) on

Posted on 11 Apr 2019, 01:17 - Category: Crime



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