Six American states – Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas – filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma on May 15, 2018, accusing the drug maker of resorting to fraudulent marketing tactics to deceive unwary customers and boost the sales of prescription opioids. Purdue Pharma, the manufactures of OxyContin, is alleged to have used deceptive means to downplay the addictive nature of the drug.
“Purdue’s deception lined the pockets of its owners and led to the deaths and hospitalization of thousands of Nevadans,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt in a statement. Similarly, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery accused Purdue of violating a 2007 settlement with his state. Slatery also alleged that the opioid maker was aware of the overdose deaths and the illegal sales of drugs to non-patients in the state.
In her lawsuit filed in a state court, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi included four other opioid makers and as many distributors. Expressing concern over the growing number of overdose deaths, Bondi said the opioid manufacturers were making money from the pain and misery of Floridians. “We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming 175 lives a day nationally and 15 lives a day in Florida,” she said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also accused Purdue of misleading doctors and patients about the absence of “ceiling dose” of their opioid drugs, while North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein hurled charges on the company of discrediting non-opioid painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin without scientific evidence. The trials for the lawsuits are scheduled for early next year in Ohio. These lawsuits have been filed after a federal judge in Cleveland encouraged opioid makers to settle hundreds of cases filed by local governments alleging unscrupulous prescribing of addictive opioids that led to fatal overdoses.
Meanwhile, Purdue has denied the charges. Defending the company, spokesperson Bob Josephson said that the lawsuits followed intensive negotiations with state authorities to deal with the opioid epidemic. He also added that the legal cases indicated costly and protracted litigation.
Opioid crisis is real
Experts feel that doctors writing millions of prescriptions for addictive opioids have fueled the deadly epidemic that is destroying the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 40 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in the country involved a prescription opioid in 2016. The CDC also reports that from 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
Educating the masses about prescription drug abuse, the dangers of exceeding the prescribed dosage and effective disposal of unwanted medicines can be an important step toward curbing the skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction. Nevertheless, seeking timely drug abuse help is key to regaining sobriety.
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