6 US states accuse opioid maker Purdue of fueling overdoses

May 15, 2018 by Ken Ritter
6 US states accuse opioid maker Purdue of fueling overdoses
This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Nevada and five other states are filing new lawsuits alleging that a pharmaceutical company used deceptive marketing to boost drugs sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths. Nevada state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt alleges in a civil complaint filed Tuesday, May 15, 2018, that Purdue Pharma minimized risks and overstated benefits of long-term use of narcotic opioids including OxyContin. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Six U.S. states on Tuesday sued the maker of the opioid OxyContin of using deceptive marketing to boost drug sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths.

Drugmaker Purdue Pharma minimized risks and overstated benefits of long-term use of narcotic opioids, according to a civil complaint filed in Nevada state court in Las Vegas.

"Purdue's deception lined the pockets of its owners and led to the deaths and hospitalization of thousands of Nevadans," Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a statement.

Similar suits were being filed in Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, Laxalt aide Monica Moazez said.

In Tennessee, Attorney General Herbert Slatery alleged that Purdue violated a 2007 settlement with his state and "knew patients were dying from overdoses and that its drugs were being illegally sold to non-patients."

Purdue, based in Stamford, Connecticut, denied the claims and said it will defend itself.

Company spokesman Bob Josephson said in an email statement that the lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the crisis. He said the lawsuits signaled costly and protracted litigation.

Slatery, who has led a 40-state probe of opioid manufacturers and distributors, said his state's complaint was submitted in Knoxville under temporary seal to protect the confidentiality of information that Purdue provided to investigators.

6 US states accuse opioid maker Purdue of fueling overdoses
This Tuesday, May 8, 2007 file photo shows the Purdue Pharma offices in Stamford, Conn. Nevada and five other states are filing new lawsuits alleging that a pharmaceutical company used deceptive marketing to boost drugs sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths. Nevada state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt alleges in a civil complaint filed Tuesday, May 15, 2018, that Purdue Pharma minimized risks and overstated benefits of long-term use of narcotic opioids including OxyContin. (AP Photo/Douglas Healey, File)

The probe and talks with the company are continuing, said Leigh Ann Apple Jones, spokeswoman for Slatery.

In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi added four other opioid manufacturers and four distributors to her state's complaint.

"We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming 175 lives a day nationally and 15 lives a day in Florida," Bondi said in a statement. She accused the companies of "profiting from the pain and suffering of Floridians."

Laxalt, in Nevada, accused Purdue Pharma of downplaying serious risks of addiction and overstating the effectiveness of doctors' ability to manage patients' addiction.

In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton also alleged the company misrepresented that there is no "ceiling dose" of their , and that doctors and patients could increase dosages indefinitely without risk.

The lawsuits come about a month after a change-of-course by a federal judge in Cleveland who had been encouraging companies and to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by local governments alleging overuse of prescription opioid painkillers.

The judge has scheduled three trials in Ohio beginning next year.

Explore further: Alabama files lawsuit against opioid manufacturer

Related Stories

Alabama files lawsuit against opioid manufacturer

February 6, 2018
Alabama on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of OxyContin and other opioids, becoming the latest state seeking to hold drug companies accountable for an addiction epidemic.

South Carolina sues drug manufacturer over opioid crisis

August 15, 2017
South Carolina has become the latest state to accuse a drug manufacturer of exacerbating its opioid drug crisis by using deceptive marketing, with the state's top prosecutor suing the maker of OxyContin.

3 Native American tribes sue opioid industry groups

January 9, 2018
Three Native American tribes in the Dakotas are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging they concealed and minimized the addiction risk of prescription drugs.

Ohio sues five drugmakers over role in opioid crisis

May 31, 2017
The US state of Ohio on Wednesday sued five major producers of prescription opioid medications, accusing them of lying about the deadly risks the painkillers—at the center of a nationwide addiction crisis—posed to public ...

DOJ to support lawsuits against companies selling opioids

February 27, 2018
The Justice Department says it will support local officials in hundreds of lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers.

OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

February 10, 2018
The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors, a surprise reversal following lawsuits that blamed the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic.

Recommended for you

Researchers publish study on new therapy to treat opioid use disorder

May 22, 2018
Better delivery of medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) is key to addressing the opioid crisis and helping the 2.6 million Americans affected by the disease.

Could nonprofit drug companies cut sky-high prices?

May 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Generic prescription drugs should be cheap, but prices for some have soared in the United States in recent years. Now a group of U.S. hospitals thinks it has a solution: a nonprofit drug maker.

Fewer antibiotics for kids, but more ADHD drugs

May 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—American kids are taking fewer prescription medications these days—but certain drugs are being prescribed more than ever, a new government study finds.

Opioid makers' perks to docs tied to more prescriptions

May 14, 2018
Doctors who accept perks from companies that make opioid painkillers are more likely to prescribe the drugs for their patients, new research suggests.

Less is more when it comes to prescription opioids for hospital patients, study finds

May 14, 2018
In a pilot study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Yale researchers significantly reduced doses of opioid painkillers given to hospital patients. By delivering the opioids with a shot under the skin or with a pill instead ...

Generic options provide limited savings for expensive drugs

May 7, 2018
Generic drug options did not reduce prices paid for the cancer therapy imatinib (Gleevec), according to a Health Affairs study released today in its May issue.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.