Litigation against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP is intensifying as six more USA states on Tuesday announced lawsuits, accusing the company of fueling a national opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing its prescription painkillers to generate billions of dollars in sales.
Five other states - Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas - also announced lawsuits today against the company.
The suit against Purdue Pharma follows a lengthy investigation by the Tennessee attorney general into several drug companies and distributors. "We believe Purdue's conduct has been unconscionable, and we intend to hold the company accountable".
According to the attorney general, three Tennesseans a day die from opioid-related overdoses.
The allegations in the State's approximately 270-page complaint demonstrate how Purdue helped to cause one of the most devastating public health crises in Tennessee's history.
"In the face of abundant evidence showing the drug was unsafe and that long-term use could lead to addiction, Purdue saw fit to exchange destroyed lives for financial gain", said Paxton.
He said the filing by these attorneys general promises costly and protracted litigation. Purdue says it's confidential, but the state has asked a judge to release the information.
Purdue Pharma is the same company Shelby County Commissioners are going after. "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". The defendants include opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma LP, J&J, Teva, Endo International Plc and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.
The suit alleges Purdue "misrepresented and trivialized the risk of addiction from "prolonged use" and "re-assured prescribers" that signs of addiction were due to so-called "pseudo-addiction" among other reasons. We're seeing clients younger and younger", said Joseph.
A bipartisan group of 41 state attorneys general also is conducting an investigation into whether opioid drug manufacturers and distributors broke the law.