U.S. state attorneys general sue Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

Clay Curtis
May 16, 2018

He said the filing by these attorneys general promises costly and protracted litigation.

The 270-page complaint outlines the state's argument, which accuses the company of causing the "most devastating public health crisis in Tennessee history" by making unlawful and misleading claims about the safety and benefits of drugs like OxyContin.

Tennessee and five other states are filing new lawsuits accusing a pharmaceutical company of using deceptive marketing to boost drug sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths. "Purdue targeted vulnerable patient populations, such as the elderly and veterans, while refusing to recognize the increased risk associated with opioid use in these patient populations". "Three Tennesseans are dying each day from opioid-related overdoses, and we are committed to the hard work that needs to be done to address this tragedy".

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In a statement, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma denied the claims and said the company will defend itself. He says proceeds from the lawsuit should be devoted to opioid treatment programs.

The lawsuit says Purdue pushed a message of "pseudo-addiction", marketing the idea that people engaged in drug-seeking behavior because they were not receiving enough opioids, and attempted to discredit non-opioid pain relievers by saying medications like aspirin or acetaminophen are riskier for chronic pain. If necessary, and depending on how the settlement discussions progress, North Dakota will amend its complaint to include additional manufacturers or bring separate suits against other manufacturers or distributors, according to Stenehjem.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma L.P. and its affiliates, which manufacture OxyContin and other opioids. The cases have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

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