Puerto Rico is next in line to file a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, alleging the company contributed to the opioid crisis and drug abuse problem continuing to cripple the nation. Purdue has been hit with hard with a slew of lawsuits from numerous parties claiming the large pharmaceutical company played a part in creating the debilitating epidemic in the United States. At least 433 lawsuits have been consolidated before powerhouse U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, nominated to his position by former president Bill Clinton, who has been pushing for a quick settlement among the parties and has invited states with cases will unsubmitted to contact him concerning any litigation plans.
Like many of the other states, Puerto Rico said that Purdue misrepresented the addictive nature of the drugs it produced and diminished the likelihood of abuse following prolonged use for pain. In Puerto Rico, the distribution of addictive opioids more than doubled between 1999 and 2013, and there have been nearly 2,000 overdoses reported from the beginning of January 2007 to March 2016. Abuse of opioids has taken a significant toll on the financial health of many states, and Puerto Rico is asking Purdue to contribute to refunding the government’s efforts to combat misuse.
April brought about a lawsuit from Arkansas, as well, with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge following suit and accusing Purdue, along with Johnson & Johnson and Endo International Plc, of misleading marketing practices designed to boost opioid sales. The AG, like many of those in other states, filed claims that the manufacturer employed deceptive marketing that increased sales, and in turn, fed the addiction problem.
“The reckless actions of these opioid manufacturers have wreaked havoc upon Arkansas and her citizens for far too long,” Rutledge said.
The company continues to deny the allegations against it, despite the increasing number of lawsuits filed as of late, stating it is “deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis.” It has attempted to counter the litigation with acknowledging that there have been far too many opioid prescriptions issued in recent years, stating in its new, national ads, “No one solution will end the crisis, but multiple, overlapping efforts will. We want everyone engaged to know you have a partner in Purdue Pharma. This is our fight, too.” However, there has been talk that the drug maker knew of the risk of addiction associated with OxyContin years ago and continued to distribute it irresponsibility.
“They can put as many ads as they want to out there, but that’s not dealing with the problem,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said earlier this year of the drug maker. “They’ve refused our invitation to come forward and talk. I find that really speaks for itself.”
Opioids were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Justice Department, in a March 1 filing, cited the “substantial costs that the federal government has borne as a result of the opioid epidemic.”