Alabama is Next in Line to File Lawsuit Against Purdue
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit in federal court that Purdue distorted the risks of OxyContin and deceptively marketed prescription painkillers for billions of dollars in profit. The lawsuit said that the state suffered significant costs as a result of a public health crisis and large number of deaths from opioid overdoses. It comes with a slew of others filed across the country alleging that manufacturers actively pushed addictive painkillers onto the public.
“It will take years to undo the damage but an important first step we must take is to hold the parties responsible for this epidemic legally liable for the destruction they have unleashed upon our citizens,” Marshall said, adding, “Our average lifespan has reduced in the last two years, and this being the principal reason why. We’ve got to be able to make a difference in this issue nationally.”
Marshall said of the marketers, “The lies that they were told and trained in over the years whether it be that there was no dosage too high of an opioid…or even this concept of a pseudo-addiction that if somebody appeared in an office demonstrating signs of addiction that just meant that they needed more pain medication.”
Purdue denied the lawsuit allegations and the drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions which accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016 alone. The opioid council also found the drug overdose death rate in Alabama also increased 82 percent from 2006 to 2014. During that eight-year time period, 5,128 people died from overdoses.
The company issued the following statement in response to the filing: “We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge. Although our products account for approximately 2% of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed the first FDA-approved opioid medication with abuse-deterrent properties and partnered with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone. We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
Attorneys generals across the U.S. have been conducting a multistate investigation into whether companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids conducted business in an unlawful manner. Purdue alone faces fourteen lawsuits by states including Alabama.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, Ohio, nominated to his position by former President Bill Clinton, is overseeing more than 200 lawsuits by cities, counties, and other parties over the opioid epidemic and the deceptive marketing practices they’re saying drug manufacturers engaged in that spurred the crisis. He has reached out to each of the attorney generals in the hopes they will be able to work together and come to a timely settlement. Marshall was among the attorneys general invited to attend the first court-ordered settlement conference overseen by Polster in Cleveland. The conference is designed to help facilitate a resolution.