If you’ve been following our blogs, then you’re certainly aware of Purdue Pharma and the OxyContin drugs that get manufactured out of their Connecticut plant. Well now, several attorney generals are hoping to put a dent in their big business dealings with six state lawsuits. Texas, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee have all filed legal actions, calling out the company’s “deceptive trade practices.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has become one of more vocal figures in the suit. “[Purdue Pharma] knows their drugs are potentially dangerous and that their use had a high likelihood of leading to addiction,” he said at a press conference. “As they got rich from sales of their opioids, Texans and others across the nation were swept up in a public health crisis that led to tens of thousands of deaths each year due to opioid overdoses.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi echoed that sentiment, emphasizing that her state has been one of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. “We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming 175 lives a day nationally and 15 lives a day in Florida,” she told reporters. “This company is profiting from the pain and suffering of Floridians.”
On paper, Purdue was called out for a laundry list of inexcusable actions. Everything from failing to disclose the risk of addiction to their products to falsely representing to doctors that signs of addiction are actually signs the patient needs a higher dose of opioids. In dollars and cents, these types of violations could cost the company millions to every state.
Earlier this year, Purdue did try to do some damage control; slashing their sales staff and working to stop promoting OxyContin to health care professionals. They have also already responded to the new allegations, denying any wrongdoing.
“We are disappointed that after months of good-faith negotiations working toward a meaningful resolution to help states address the opioid crisis, these attorney generals have unilaterally decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process,” Purdue rep Robert Josephson said in a prepared statement. “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
It certainly will be interesting to see how a pharmaceutical giant like Purdue chooses to defend itself. It is worth noting that back in 2007, they wound up paying $19.5 million to settle lawsuits with multiple states after being accused of aggressively marketing their OxyContin products. In this scenario, we can foresee the consequences being much more hefty.