Attorney General Morrisey Sues Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed suit against Purdue Pharma and former chief executive Richard Sackler, alleging their marketing of opioids helped fuel the addiction epidemic.

West Virginia’s lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma pushed false claims and deceptive practices, even having trained marketing employees with the motto: “We sell hope in a bottle.”

“This lawsuit reveals many years of painstaking investigation,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The senseless death and ruined lives of untold thousands must stop. Our complaint alleges that the company used false and misleading information to deceive medical personnel and patients. They must be held accountable.”

West Virginia simultaneously filed its lawsuit with Iowa, Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin. The bipartisan coalition seeks specified and unspecified damages against Purdue Pharma Inc., Purdue Pharma LP and Sackler, a medical doctor who formerly served as president and member of the company’s board of directors.

West Virginia will also continue to investigation to determine whether it will add additional defendants to this suit.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants falsely convinced prescribers that opioids are nonaddictive and that its products were safer than they actually were.

The lawsuit contends Purdue Pharma proliferated a deceptive marketing strategy with reckless disregard for compliance enforcement. The complaint further alleges that Purdue Pharma trained sales representatives to make prohibited claims. For example, the corporation presented its opioid as less likely for people to abuse. However, federal regulators said the tamper-resistant properties had no effect on the most common mode of abuse: swallowing the pill.

The lawsuit also alleges Purdue Pharma representatives claimed OxyContin had no dose ceiling, despite regulator assertions that it’s ceiling was evident by adverse reactions.

Thursday’s lawsuit marks West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004. However, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.

The lawsuit was filed in Boone County Circuit Court. It sets forth violations of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act as well as common law nuisance.

Read the court filing here

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