Stamford, Connecticut, USA: Six more U.S. states – Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee – on Tuesday announced lawsuits against OxyContin maker, Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma LP, on the grounds that the company allegedly fueled a national opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing its prescription painkillers to generate billions of dollars in sales.
The state attorneys general also said Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids.
“It’s time the defendants pay for the pain and the destruction they’ve caused,” Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi said during a broadcast of the announcement.
Florida also sued drugmakers Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc, Allergan, units of Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Mallinckrodt, as well as drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp.
The announcements follow lawsuits already filed by 16 other U.S. states, Puerto Rico and New York City against the privately-held company. Purdue in February announced a halt to its promotion of opioids to physicians following widespread criticism of the ways drugmakers market addictive painkillers.
Purdue denied the allegations in a statement. It noted its drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.
“We are disappointed that after months of good faith negotiations working toward a meaningful resolution to help these states address the opioid crisis, this group of attorneys general have unilaterally decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process,” Purdue said.
Company spokesman Bob Josephson says the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.
He says the filing by these attorneys general promises costly and protracted litigation.
Opioids were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, the last year for which data is available, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The abuse of and addiction to prescription opioids is a serious public health issue in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 2 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers.
Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that nearly 19 million Americans aged 12 or older had abused or misused prescription drugs in the past year. Sometimes cases of misuse are accidental: In 2016, 23,872 cases of improper medicine use reported to Poison Control Centers involved accidental exposure to another person’s medicine.
Overprescribing and the subsequent stockpiling of these drugs contributes to America’s opioid epidemic, which President Trump declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency last October.
Many people don’t even know when they have been prescribed an opioid. This class of drugs includes a number of well-known medicines, including Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and morphine drugs such as Avinza, Dolphine, Butrans, Embeda and Kadian.