Kentucky AG files opioid epidemic lawsuit against Endo

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear on Monday filed a lawsuit against Endo International for allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing tactics while promoting its controversial opioid Opana ER in the state.

Opana ER — extended release oxymorphone — is a highly potent opioid meant to be swallowed and released over the span of 12 hours. After its release, drug users began crushing the pill to bypass its time-release mechanism before snorting or injecting it. The lawsuit claims Endo's marketing efforts expanded the demand for opioids. The suit also alleges that when the company was confronted with data suggesting Opana ER was being widely abused, it introduced a reformulated version of the drug that was harder to crush and marketed it as safe when the company had evidence that it wasn't. In July, Endo removed its abuse-deterrent formulation of the drug from the market after the Food and Drug Administration requested the company do so.

"Today we are taking action to hold Endo responsible for unlawfully building a market for the chronic use of opioids in the name of increasing corporate profits, knowing all along the dangers of Opana ER that led to devastating effects on the commonwealth," Mr. Beshear said. "My office refuses to sit back and watch families be torn apart while opioid manufacturers like Endo line their pockets at the expense of our communities and our future."

In 2016, more than 190 people in Kentucky died of an oxymorphone-related overdose. The lawsuit alleges Endo contributed to these overdoses and others through the promotion of Opana ER.

Endo does not comment on ongoing litigation. However, Matthew Maletta, the company's executive vice president and chief legal officer, described Mr. Beshear's comments about Endo as "offensive" in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

"The public statement made by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear in connection with filing suit against Endo that this organization and its dedicated employees seek to 'line their pockets at the expense of communities' is patently offensive," Mr. Maletta said. "We intend to vigorously defend the company against the claims set forth in this lawsuit."

More articles on opioids: 
Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove: Healthcare providers helped facilitate opioid epidemic and have a key role in ending it 
U.S. Naval Hospital Naples begins prescription take-back program 
CDC reports stark increase in drug overdose deaths

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