Tennessee joins US state attorneys general from Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and North Dakota in claiming Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids.
One of the country's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers knowingly exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of its drugs to mislead Nevada doctors to prescribe more painkilling opioid pills to patients, state Attorney General Adam Laxalt said today.
"My office is holding Purdue Pharma accountable for fueling the nation's opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers including OxyContin when it knew their drugs were potentially risky and that its use had a high likelihood of leading to addiction", Attorney General Paxton said. Each day, 115 Americans die of opioid overdoses.
"Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation", John Parker, the organization's senior vice president, said in a statement.
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Hundreds of similar lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers and distributors.
The suits accused drugmakers of deceptively marketing opioids and the distributors of ignoring indications that the painkillers were being diverted for improper uses. "We believe Purdue's conduct has been unconscionable, and we intend to hold the company accountable".
In a statement, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma denied the claims and said the company will defend itself.
Company spokesman Bob Josephson says the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.
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The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the office did not say when that lawsuit would be filed.
Purdue also faces three other lawsuits in Tennessee from 14 district attorneys general, including Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus.
"We lack the resources that we need to treat this problem", said Stenehjem.
In September, Paxton announced he was joining a 41-state investigation of companies that manufacture or sell opioids.
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