Montana files opioid lawsuit against Purdue Pharma

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox on Nov. 30 filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, alleging the drugmaker engaged in a deceptive opioid marketing campaign, which contributed to rising rates of opioid overdoses in the state.

Mr. Fox announced the suit during a press conference Monday. The lawsuit claims Purdue misrepresented the risk of addiction associated with the long-term use of OxyContin. The suit also alleges the drugmaker falsely claimed opioids were safer than certain non-narcotic pain treatments and that abuse-deterrent opioid formulations would protect against misuse, among other allegations.

"Pharmaceutical companies that knowingly and deceptively harm consumers must be held accountable," Mr. Fox said. "As our investigation revealed and our complaint alleges, for years, Purdue knew the damage caused by OxyContin, and rather than scale back or eliminate distribution of the drug, it ramped-up deceptive marketing tactics to present the drug as 'safe.' Purdue manipulates doctors, lies to consumers and its actions contributed to thousands of deaths across the country."

The suit seeks to recoup funds the state expended responding to the opioid crisis. Between 2011 and 2013, more than 7,000 Montanans were treated for prescription opioid overdoses in emergency rooms. Since 2000, more than 700 people have died from an opioid overdose in the state.

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