Washington state, Seattle file opioid lawsuits against drugmakers

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The attorneys general for Seattle and Washington state filed separate lawsuits against drugmakers Sept. 28 for the companies' alleged roles in the facilitating the opioid epidemic.

Seattle's lawsuit names Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Endo Pharmaceuticals, alleging the drug companies used groups such as American Pain Foundation and American Academy of Pain Medicine to "spread false and deceptive statements about the risks and benefits of opioids."

"Through this lawsuit, I hope to recoup for the public and the city departments that have had to spend more of their limited resources on mitigating the harm caused by the opioid crisis," said Pete Holmes, Seattle's attorney general, during a joint press conference with Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The state lawsuit names only Purdue Pharma and accuses the company of engaging in deceptive marketing tactics to promote the overprescribing of its opioid OxyContin.

"Purdue Pharma ignored the devastating consequences of its opioids and profited from its massive deception," Mr. Ferguson said. "It's time they are held accountable and pay for the devastation they caused."

Purdue Pharma said it is deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and is committed to being a part of the solution.

"As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to [Food and Drug Administration]-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge," the drugmaker said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense."

In Washington, prescription opioids and heroin have jointly killed an average of 700 people a year since 2006, according to The Seattle Times.

More articles on opioids: 
Florida governor to propose 3-day opioid prescription limits in 2018 
Study: 7-day opioid prescriptions inadequate for certain surgical procedures 
CDC rolls out opioid awareness campaign

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