Investors Sue PetMed Over Online Opioid Marketing

(CN) – Shareholders filed a class action seeking to recover damages from PetMed Express Inc. over the the company’s marketing of a dangerous and addictive opioid pet painkiller to humans.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of investors who purchased PetMed stock from May 23, 2017, to Aug. 22, 2017.

Florida-based PetMed operates a pet pharmacy marketing prescription and non-prescription pet medications and health products for dogs and cats.

The lawsuit cites a report from Aurelius Value on Aug. 23 that accuses the company of exploiting the country’s opioid addiction epidemic by targeting opioid users with “Google ads and other marketing techniques aimed at facilitating the abuse of opioids.” The report specifically names a synthetic opioid sold by PetMed called Tramadol that’s unique in that it’s prescribed to animals and human cancer patients.

According to the report, PetMed “dangles ads featuring pictures of Tramadol to drug users searching for how to get high or quickly score a variety of different opiates, narcotics, and street drugs without a prescription.” The report also claims that the Tramadol ads account for 25% of Petmed’s paid search traffic and that the company reported record gains since the ad campaign expanded.

Shares of PetMed fell $3.19 to close at $36.22 on August 23 after the report hit the web and investors claim the matter will likely draw the attention of regulators.

Investors are represented by Patrick V. Dahlstrom or Pomerantz LLP in Chicago and Peretz Bronstein of Bronstein, Gerwitz & Grossman LLP in New York.

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