Medicine

Texas, 5 other states suing opioid maker Purdue Pharma

Texas, 5 other states suing opioid maker Purdue Pharma

The suit also claims Purdue violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and its 2007 settlement with Tennessee.

In the complaint with Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, North Dakota alleges that Purdue misrepresented and trivialized the risk of addiction from prolonged use of opioids and reassured prescribers that signs of addiction were due to so-called "pseudoaddiction" and would cease once the patient's pain was controlled.

Company spokesman Bob Josephson says the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.

US state attorneys general of Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee claim Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids. "We remain hopeful about reaching an early resolution, but, as evidenced by today's action against Purdue, we will not hesitate to file suit if it is in the State's best interest", added Attorney General Slatery.

The 61-page complaint also said the pharmaceutical company allegedly trained salespeople to downplay the risk of addiction, funded the research of field experts who led talks with health care professionals on opioid prescribing, told patients that long-term use would help them resume daily activities and distorted data on OxyContin's 12-hour efficacy.

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Purdue, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a statement in which it denied the accusations and that its drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and accounted for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

Slatery requested that the lawsuit be temporarily sealed because documents Purdue turned over during his office's investigation contain "highly confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information". He later withdrew the motions, allowing the district attorneys to continue handling the cases.

He says the filing by these attorneys general promises costly and protracted litigation. "I think their lawsuit complements ours; it's not in competition".

"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 made a decision to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process", Purdue said in a statement. Dickenson County and Alexandria, Virginia, filed state lawsuits in March.