State AG announces lawsuit against large opioid manufacturer

Henrietta Strickland
September 29, 2017

The city of Seattle and Washington State have filed separate lawsuits against Purdue Pharma; maker of Oxycontin.

In January, Everett filed a civil lawsuit against Purdue for allowing OxyContin to be funneled through the black market, causing the current opioid crisis in Everett, according to the city.

The lawsuit by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson accused Purdue of deceptive marketing of OxyContin and convincing doctors and the public that its drugs had a low-risk of addiction and were effective for treating chronic pain.

The lawsuit seeks to force Purdue to forfeit the Washington portion of those profits. "They downplayed the significant risk of patients becoming addicted to opioids, and they made false claims about the overdose risks", Ferguson said, pointing out that many people who start abusing pain pills turn to heroin to get their opioid fix. "That's not right. It's our job to hold them accountable for that", Ferguson said.

Seattle's lawsuit targets Purdue Pharma and other drug companies, including Endo Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug Percocet.

Ferguson said Purdue repeatedly claimed that opioid addiction occurred in less than 1 percent of patients.

The company insisted it wants to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis.

The latest suits, filed separately in King County Superior Court, accuse the companies of deliberately overstating the effectiveness of their prescription painkillers while misleading patients and doctors about the risks of addiction - in violation of Washington's consumer protection laws.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue said in a statement it was "deeply troubled" by the opioid crisis and that its U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved products account for just 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

Dennis said Thursday that her son spent nine months in a Seattle hospital hooked up to an opiate drip to deal with the pain of his chemotherapy. He said the city has spent millions of dollars to address the needs of people addicted to opioids.

She said she knew he had a problem when she visited him in treatment, and he asked her to leave, saying, "This is my happy time".

More than two dozen states, cities and counties - including Ohio, Mississippi, Orange County in California, and the Washington cities of Everett and Tacoma - have sued the pharmaceutical companies. He's now 31, and has struggled since his teens with addiction and homelessness.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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