A field of opium poppies in… England? (Andrew Smith, via Wikimedia Commons)

Cities, counties, and states across the country are launching an avalanche of lawsuits directed at pharmaceutical manufacturers who allegedly colluded to overprescribe and overdistribute narcotic pain medications.  They’re joined by health insurance carriers, unions,  pension funds, and other interest groups in perhaps the most massive group of cases in history.  See here for just the latest (at the time of this writing) New York Times story on the issue.  I have to disagree with the Times on one point: this is far bigger than the tobacco litigation of the 1990s.

The big name defendants:  Amerisource Bergen, Pudue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, Jansen, even Johnson & Johnson (yeah, the baby shampoo guys!).

But a little less known are the foreign companies named in many of the suits… Allergan plc (formerly Actavis plc), Mallinckrodt plc, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited.  These defendants, barring an agreement to waive or accept service of process here in the United States, still have to be served pursuant to the Hague Service Convention.  Litigation teams cannot just assume that, because they’re already litigating other cases, it isn’t necessary to serve them.  Proper formalities must still be observed, and that means different things in different countries.


  • Allergan plc… Ireland
  • Mallinckrodt plc… England
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited… Israel

Fortunately, none of those three countries are particularly arduous, but it is still important to know the differences between them.  They don’t all work the same– and they certainly don’t work the same as northern Ohio!