N.Y., 6 states sue Purdue Pharma over opioid crisis

By Susan McFarland  |  May 16, 2018 at 2:15 PM
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May 16 (UPI) -- The state of New York said Wednesday it's suing Purdue Pharma for "reckless disregard" in selling narcotic painkillers that contribute to the opioid crisis.

New York joins six other states in suing Purdue -- Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas -- for its manufacture of the drug OxyContin. The state attorneys general said the drug maker uses misleading marketing tactics.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said New York is committed to holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for the damage they've wrought on New York's towns, communities, and families.

"We are preparing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for its alleged deception and reckless disregard for the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, Underwood said in a statement. "It is clear to us that Purdue profited by deliberately exploiting New Yorkers' addictions, and by pushing healthcare providers to increase patients' use and dependence on these potentially fatal drugs."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state "will not sit idly by as big corporations fuel the opioid epidemic and ignore the consequences of their actions."

"Too many innocent lives have been lost and too many families destroyed," he said.

New York and other states announced a nationwide investigation last summer into major opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday Purdue sold its drugs knowing they were "potentially dangerous" and its use has "a high likelihood" of addiction.

"As Purdue got rich from sales of its opioids, Texans and others across the nation were swept up in a public health crisis," Paxton said.

Purdue said it is also concerned with the crisis.

"This is our fight too," a statement on its website said.

Earlier this year, Purdue announced it would no longer market OxyContin directly to physicians.

The company said patients' needs and safety is what led to research and development of medications to help patients.

"It's what has spurred us to redouble our efforts in the fight against the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis. It's why we're taking action," Purdue said.

The drug maker said some blame should fall on doctors, who should check state monitoring databases before writing a prescription for narcotics to identify those with drug-seeking behaviors.

President Donald Trump has said opioid addiction "is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had" and declared a national health emergency.

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