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N.H. sues Purdue Pharma for alleged role in opioid crisis

By Andrew V. Pestano
N.H. sues Purdue Pharma for alleged role in opioid crisis
New Hampshire's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, alleging it is helping to worsen the U.S. opioid epidemic. File Photo by iminwon/Shutterstock

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The attorney general's office of New Hampshire has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma alleging the drug manufacturer deceptively marketed OxyContin and worsened an opioid crisis.

Deputy Attorney General Ann M. Rice announced the lawsuit on Tuesday after a two-year investigation that concluded Purdue committed numerous violations to the state's Consumer Protection Act, Medicaid Fraud Act and other state laws.

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In a statement, the state attorney general's office said the lawsuit alleges Purdue has engaged in unfair or deceptive marketing practices by "significantly downplaying the serious risk of addiction posed by OxyContin and other products; overstating the efficacy of chronic opioid therapy by claiming that OxyContin lasts for 12 hours when, for many patients, that is not true."

The lawsuit also alleges the company broke the law by "claiming that its product is tamper resistant and thereby nearly impossible to abuse when the product's tamper resistant properties are easily defeated; and by failing to report instances of suspicious dispensing of its products."

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The state's lawsuit comes after it was reported President Donald Trump said he won New Hampshire in the 2016 election because it is a "drug-infested den," which prompted state lawmakers to lash out.

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Though New Hampshire has had particular problems with drug abuse in recent years -- it has the highest synthetic opioid death rate in the country -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., called Trump's statement "a gross misrepresentation" of the state and the epidemic.

The New Hampshire attorney general's office said that while opioids are effective and mostly safe in helping patients, the drugs could lead to addiction, abuse and incidents of overdosing.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports four out of five heroin users started by abusing prescription opioids, such as OxyContin.

"New Hampshire continues to experience a severe opioid epidemic. Last year alone nearly 500 overdose deaths occurred-almost ten times more than in 2000. In 2016, the deputy administrator of the [Drug Enforcement Agency] called New Hampshire 'ground zero' of the opioid epidemic," the New Hampshire attorney general's office said. "To defeat the epidemic, we must stop creating new users and part of that is making sure these highly addictive and dangerous drugs are marketed truthfully and without deception and in such a way as not to minimize addiction risks or overstate benefits to patients."

Purdue Pharma by United Press International on Scribd

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