Montana Sues OxyContin Manufacturer Purdue Over Its Contribution To The Opioid Crisis

By Carl Velasco | Dec 06, 2017 08:08 AM EST
Pharma Purdue, the drugmaker behind OxyContin, marketed its medication so aggressively that it contributed to the opioid crisis. That’s according to a new lawsuit by the state of Montana. (Photo : Darren McCollester | Getty Images)

Montana is now the latest state to sue Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, over the role it allegedly played in the opioid crisis. The company is now pressing for joint talks among states to resolve the allegations saying its promotion of the drug aided opioid addiction rates.

Montana Goes After Purdue In Lawsuit

According to Reuters, Montana withdrew from a multi-state investigation into the marketing and promotional practices of manufacturers with regard to opioid. It is one of the states that have broken off to pursue individual lawsuits.

Tim Fox, Montana attorney general, announced the lawsuit on Monday, Dec. 4, accusing Purdue of misrepresenting the tendency of long-term Oxycontin use to lead to addiction and for falsely claiming it was safe for treating chronic pain.

"The epidemic began not with an outbreak, but with a business plan," said Fox.

Over 700 people have died of opioid overdoses in Montana alone since 2000, the lawsuit claims, which also suggests that abuse of prescription drugs is 15 times more deadly than methamphetamines, heroin, and cocaine — combined.

"Purdue manipulates doctors, lies to consumers, and its actions contributed to thousands of deaths across the country," said Fox.

Purdue has denied the allegations and said that it's committed to finding a solution for the opioid crisis.

"We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution," it said.

Purdue has not only claimed the allegations as false but also said that its medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for long-term use and that these even carry warning labels about potential addiction risks.

The Opioid Crisis And Lawsuits

Various cities, states, and counties have launched over 150 lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors in an attempt to recoup the costs of treating opioid addiction. Dozens of states have collaborated to jointly ask for information to better investigate the opioid crisis. Some states, however — Montana being an example — have broken away from those collaborations and instead decided to sue on their own.

For Purdue, the lawsuit rings a bell. In 2007, the drugmaker settled with the federal government and a number of states, one of them being Montana, acknowledging it lied to doctors about the potential for OxyContin to be abused.

According to the lawsuit, Purdue didn't stop deceptively marketing the medication via promotional visits, payments to physicians, and patient advocacy groups.

Furthermore, Purdue has also promoted some sort of "pseudo-addiction" concept that suggests a patient who wanted to take more medication isn't really addicted, only "under-treated," and thus deserves to be prescribed higher doses of opioids, according to the lawsuit.

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